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Asia Dive News : Oil spill in the Gulf of Thailand threatens beaches

More than 300,000 litres of crude oil was spilled into the sea just three nautical miles off Sri Racha district yesterday, sparking fears of environmental damage.

The spillage occurred at about 9am while an oil tanker, the Ryuho Maru, was discharging crude oil into an underwater pipeline leading to a tank depot belonging to Thai Oil Plc.

An informed source estimated the cost of damage at more than Bt2 million.

The same source said it took officials more than half an hour to turn off a valve and stop the crude oil spilling into the sea.

Following the incident, an oil slick up to three kilometres long threatened environmental damage and adverse impacts to tourism at nearby popular beaches.

"An investigation is now ongoing to determine what caused the spillage," the source said.

The Marine Department cordoned off the floating oil slick yesterday out of concern that boat traffic and engines running near the oil could spark fires.

The department also dispatched the ship Chol Taranurak, which is specially equipped to clean up oil spills, from Samut Prakan.

The clean up job is expected to be completed today.

Source: The Nation