, BANGKOK, July 29 – Thai navy personnel battled Monday to clean up a major oil slick which coated a beach on a popular tourist island in a national park after a pipeline leak.
Roughly 50,000 litres of crude oil gushed into the sea on Saturday about 20 kilometres (12 miles) off the coast of the eastern province of Rayong, operator PTT Global Chemical said.
The oil reached Ao Phrao beach on the island of Ko Samet where hundreds of navy personnel, national park officials, company workers and villagers raced to remove it.
“It covers about 300 metres (990 feet) of the beach. That’s a lot,” Soomet Saitong, chief of the Khao Laem Ya National Park which includes Samet island, told AFP.
Some visitors were cutting short their holidays on the island, which is a popular destination for weekend breaks for Bangkok residents.
“There are oil stains right in front of the beach. Customers are starting to check out,” a worker at the Ao Phrao Resort told AFP.
“There’s oil all over on the beach,” said a member of the front desk staff at another nearby hotel.
“We just have to accept it. It’s chaotic right now. Many people and officials are on the beach dealing with it.”
The pipeline operator part of state owned giant PTT had said in a statement Sunday that 10 ships were involved in an urgent clean up and it was confident of containing the spill.
PTT Global Chemical chief executive Anon Sirisaengtaksin apologised at a news conference Monday and said the company accepted responsibility for the leak.