July 28, 2013 00:00 By The Sunday Nation 9,236 Viewed
Strong winds and waves pose threat after leak in Gulf of Thailand
An oil spill in the Gulf of Thailand caused by a pipe leak at an offshore platform yesterday has led to concern about the possible adverse impacts on the environment.
More than 70 tonnes of crude oil spilled into the sea following a leak in a crude-oil pipe at an offshore platform operated by PTT Global Chemical, a subsidiary of petroleum company PTT.
The spill spread to form a V shape over a distance of 1.5 nautical miles, according to the Navy, which sent out ships and helicopters to help in the containment mission.
In a statement, PTT Global Chemical said the leak of a crude transport pipe with 16-inch diameter took place shortly before 7am at a single-point mooring, about 20 kilometres southeast of the Map Ta Phut deep-sea port in Rayong.
Pratheep Aengchuan, director of the Map Ta Phut Industrial Estate, said the leak was plugged and booms were used to contain oil spill in the sea.
Booms are temporary floating barriers used to reduce the possibility of polluting shorelines and other resources, and to help make recovery easier. Booms help to concentrate oil in thicker surface layers so that skimmers, vacuums, or other collection methods could be used more effectively.
He said the relevant agencies were working round the clock to prevent the spill from reaching the shores, which would adversely affect the environment and tourism.
Pollution Control Department director-general Wichien Jungrungruang expressed concern that increasingly stronger winds could obstruct the authorities’ efforts to contain the oil slick.
“Strong winds and waves will allow oil slicks to spread to the shores faster. This may affect the ecological system and [seaside] communities,” he said.
The Navy and the relevant agencies – including the Pollution Control Department, Harbour Department, and Industrial Estate Authority of Thailand – worked together yesterday in a bid to contain the spill, according to Wichien. Booms were laid out around the spill and an oil skimmer was used to collect the leaked crude, he said.
Asst Prof Thon Thamrongnawasawat, an expert in marine ecology, called for a quick clean-up of the oil spill in the sea, in order to prevent adverse impacts on the environment, which in turn could harm the local tourism industry.
“Oil spill should not be allowed to spread to the shores, or the coastal tourist destinations will be affected. It is more difficult to clean up and there will be more problems when slicks reach the shores,” he said.
Puchong Sarittichaikul, director of a local marine resources preservation centre, said that with the winds coming towards Rayong’s shores, he was concerned that the floating oil slick could reach the beaches. He said local fishing boats were asked to be on the lookout and inform the authorities when they see oil slick near the shores.