August 16, 2013 00:00 By PONGPHON SARNSAMAK
Unsafe TPH levels in Ao Noi Na found
The Pollution Control Department (PCD) has postponed a press conference at which it was to disclose the results of the second test of contaminated seawater around Koh Samet caused by the oil spill, saying the results have not yet been handed to the department. Meanwhile, the results of another test conducted by the Marine and Coastal Resources Department show that the concentration levels of Total Petroleum Hydrocarbon (TPH) in Koh Samet’s Ao Noi Na was 1.05 microgram per litre which exceed accepted standards of 0.5 microgram per litre. The samples of sea water were collected between August 4 and 6. The PCD’s Public Relations division said no new date for the press conference has been scheduled. Before attending a meeting of the Natural Resources and Environment Ministry’s committee monitoring the recovery from the oil spill affecting Koh Samet’s Ao Phrao coastline, department director general Wichien Jungrungruang told The Nation that the press conference announcing the results would be held yesterday afternoon. But the ministry’s permanent secretary, Chote Trachu, said it was unlikely the PCD press conference would go ahead as the department was still waiting for the test results from the private laboratory hired to carry out the tests. Wichien could not be reached via phone to confirm the department’s decision to postpone the press conference; however, on Monday he insisted that the results of the second test would be disclosed yesterday as scheduled. Chote insisted that he had no orders to forbid the ministry’s top executives from disclosing information to members of the public about the ministry’s attempts to clean up the oil spill. On Monday, Wichien revealed during a press conference that the concentration levels of mercury in seawater samples collected on August 3 exceeded the acceptable level of 0.1 micrograms per litre.
High mercury levels
The levels of mercury at Ao Phrao, on the west side of the island, and at Ao Tub Tim, on the east side, were recorded at 2.9 micrograms per litre and 0.25 microgram per litre, respectively.
Wichien also warned visitors not to swim in the two areas.
One day after the announcement of the results of the first test, Deputy Prime Minister Plodprasop Suraswadi heavily criticised Wichien for the delay in revealing the results of the second test, saying Wichien had created panic among members of the public as the results were not based on real-time developments.
Wichien apologised for the delay and said he would endeavour to inform members of the public about developments every two days.
The private laboratory hired by the department said it would take a week to two weeks to run the tests. To date, the oil spill has cost the department about Bt3 million.
Meanwhile, Natural Resources and Environment Minister Vichet Kasemthongsri, a former PTT chairman, said he would hold a press conference to disclose the test results tomorrow on August 17.