- Posted August 15, 2013 by
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Mercury risk high on Samet, Rayong. Any practical solution?
Thailand’s Pollution Control Department says tourists should avoid swimming at Samet Island’s Phrao Bay due to a high level of mercury in the water. An oil slick floated into the bay late last month when 50,000 litres of crude oil leaked from a pipeline.
Contrary to earlier reports, the water in the bay has now been declared risky. The same advisory covers Tubtim Bay, located on the east of the island
The authority is checking its findings and says it hope to clarify the impact further.
In the meantime visitors are recommended to avoid swimming in the area where the oil slick spread even though the clean-up has been completed.
Earlier this week, the Pollution Control Department reported that the quality of sea water at 12 beaches on Samet’s east coast Island was within safety levels. However, people are still advised against swimming at Phrao and Tubtim bay beaches until the mercury level falls.
The department general director, Wichian Jungrungrueng, said the results of the sea water quality tests were based on samples from 12 beaches taken last week. They showed that the pH, dissolved oxygen, arsenic and cadmium levels were below the level deemed risky.
As for mercury, the sea water at most of the beaches has less than the limit of 0.1 microgrammes a litre, except the sea water at Tubtim and Phrao bays, where tests recorded levels of 0.25 and 2.9 microgrammes a litre.
“Although the levels are considered not dangerous and do not harm marine life, swimming should be avoided until further test show the level has dropped.”
Khao Laem Ya-Mu Ko Samet National Park chief Sumet Saithong said divers and marine biologists inspected the coral reefs near Phrao Bay beach reporting that over 70% of the coral was black, covered by residue of crude oil and chemical dispersants.
The crude oil leaked from a PTT Global Chemical pipeline used to pump crude oil from tankers, anchored off-shore, to the refinery on the mainland. Samet Island, about 3 km off the coast of Rayong and 150 km southeast of Bangkok, is a popular holiday spot for Thais and foreigners living in the capital.
The island attracts about 1 million visitors a year, mostly on weekends.
Satellite image by Geo-Informatics and Space Technology Development Agency (GISTDA), as of 2 August 2013, 05.33 hrs
+ Further improvement in the oil spill off Samet Island, Thailand, is clearly indicated in the “COSMO-SkyMed-2” Satellite image at 0533 hrs, August 2nd, 2013. The image shows the area of the oil film on the north side of the island has reduced significantly since August 1, 2013, and is now almost invisible via satellite.
+August 2 is the fifth day of oil spill cleanup operations under way in Ao Phrao, Rayong Province. As of this morning, the pictures on the Mass Communications Organisation of Thailand website show that the recovery is making progress. The sludge of black oil which was all over the beach several days ago is now almost gone. The oil slick and toxic sludge is being removed to the refinery at the PTT GCC for disposal.
+Tourism business at other beaches in Rayong such as Hat Mae Ramphueng, Hat Suan Son, and Hat Wang Kaeo has remained unaffected.
+ The provincial administration has set up a special centre to receive complaints from those affected by the oil spill.
+The compensations payments will be made immediately by PTT Public Company Limited (PTT) after inspections without having to wait for payment from an insurance company.
+PTT Global Chemical Public Company Limited (PTTGC), the flagship company of PTT, has allocated a special budget in this year’s fourth quarter to pay for the labour, chemicals and restoration of Phrao Bay while compensation alone could be as high as US$50 million.
+About twenty beaches on Samet including with Had Sai Kaeo (Crystal Sand Beach), Ao Wong Duean, Ao Phai, Ao Kio and Ao Karang which are located on the east coast of Samet Island which is totally unaffected.
+About 2,000 rooms on the island are currently occupied, representing 70 percent of all rooms on the island.
+A special tour package to rebuild tourism at Ao Phrao is being prepared with full cooperation from Thai tour operators.
Source: by Wanwisa Ngamsangchaikit (TTR Weekly)