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Thailand concerned over effects of oil spill

Aug. 1, 2013 at 6:36 PM   |   Comments

BANGKOK, Aug. 1 (UPI) -- Thai officials said they're worried about the long-term ecological effects of an oil spill, though most of the visible water pollution has cleared.

PTT Global Chemical PCL reported a spill of about 300 barrels of oil from a faulty pipe Saturday. Officials at the subsidiary of Thailand's state-owned oil and gas company said the spill was curbed by booms while 9,200 gallons of a chemical that disperses oil slicks were used.

Paitoon Mokkongpai, an environmental researcher at Thailand's Burapha University Institute of Marine Science, was quoted Thursday by The Wall Street Journal as saying there may be underlying concerns.

"The residues may disintegrate organically but if the seawater isn't deep enough, the residues may fall over some areas of seabed and coral reefs, killing micro organism down there," he said.

The Thai government said Wednesday about 70 percent of the oil slick dissipated.

However, the spill is even bigger than it looks on the surface and could have health impacts on humans and for aquaculture, an expert said Thursday.

In addition to the thick black slick reported in media coverage, satellite photos have indicated a less visible film of oil is covering a broader area of almost 6 square miles near the island of Koh Samet, a popular tourist destination in the Gulf of Thailand, said Anond Snidvongs, director of the country's Geo-Informatics and Space Technology.

Satellite photos show the spill drifting northeast, away from Koh Samet and towards the Thai mainland, the Bangkok Post reported Thursday.

The oil has already reached the mainland in Rayong province, officials said.

If it enters coastal farms, the oil can affect animals because the slick may contain hydrocarbons or heavy metals, Anond said, and he warned against the use of the tainted seawater in coastal farms and cautioned people to avoid swimming in the water.

Greenpeace called on the Thai government Monday to review its energy policy and to put an end to oil exploration and drilling in the Gulf of Thailand.

© 2013 United Press International, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI's prior written consent.
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