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Samet Island beach closed as oil reaches beach

Posted By GABRIELLE LEVY, UPI.com   |   July 29, 2013 at 2:00 PM   |   Comments

July 29 (UPI) -- A beach on the popular tourist destination Samet Island in the Gulf of Thailand was been closed as an oil slick from a leaking offshore pipeline reached shore.

"We closed off Prao Bay on Samet to tourists so authorities can clean up the water and beach," said Rayong province director Chuchart Oncharoen of the Tourism Authority of Thailand. "Prao Bay is on the west coast of Samet, but most of the island’s hotels and resorts are on the east coast, which has not been affected by the spill."

A pipeline belonging to PTT Global Chemical Public Limited Company began leaking Saturday, spilling about 132,000 gallons of oil into the gulf.

With the aid of the Thai navy, PTT was able to contain most of the spill by Saturday night, but some of the oil escaped the booms.

Chuchart said the impact of the spill was yet unclear, though he noted some tourists have canceled hotel reservations on Samet.

After a visit to Samet, National Resources and Environment Minister Wichet Kasemthongsri said the "polluter" would be held responsible for any damage caused by the spill.

Greenpeace South-East Asia called on PTT to commission a follow-up study on the environmental impact of the spill after the cleanup was finished.

"Drilling that puts livelihoods and our natural heritage at risk is unwarranted when measures to shift to clean, sustainable energy already exist," said Greenpeace's Thailand manager Ply Pirom.

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