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Phuket fuel spill five times larger than estimated

PHUKET: The person responsible for the Phuket boat which sank and leaked 10,000 litres of fuel – five times more fuel than originally thought – may face charges, the Phuket Marine Office has said.


Nattha Thepbamrung

Tuesday 26 March 2013, 03:18PM


The oil spill on Friday. A large majority of the oil has since been cleaned up.
The oil spill on Friday. A large majority of the oil has since been cleaned up.

But it is not yet known who exactly that is, as officials say the person responsible might not be the boat’s owner, as it is believed the boat was hired out to transport the fuel.

The boat’s owner has been identified as Somsak Homsap, who has yet to be questioned by officials.

The fishing boat Pemika sank in the mouth of the Tah Chin Klong, off Koh Sirae, on Friday (March 22).

It leaked what was first thought to be about 2,000 litres of fuel. However officials said today the actual amount that leaked was almost five times that.

We underestimated it,” Puripat Teerakulpisut, Phuket Marine Office Director, told The Phuket News.

We initially estimated the leaked fuel was about 2,000 litres. But there was almost 10,000 litres, so it took three days to clean it up – we finished on Sunday.”

Two or three small crabs were found to be covered in fuel, but officials don’t believe any other wildlife or marine animals were affected.

We have removed 20 tanks of thick fuel. We went as fast as we could because we know that fuel can coagulate quicker than other types of oil.

If we were any slower it would have affected the environment. I have not seen any fish or other marine life that died from this spill,” Mr Puripat said.

There were many areas that the fuel drifted into. We put booms in the klong on the first day of the spill, but during the night when boats tried to moor, some hit the boom and fuel spilled out. This made our job tougher and it took a lot of time.”

However he said all the fuel which could affect the environment and marine life had been removed. All that remained was a thin film on the water’s surface, which would disappear soon, he said.

Meanwhile, Marine Office Region 15 Environmental Specialist Pakin Boon-On went to the affected area yesterday (March 25) to collect water samples to check the level of contamination from the spill.

I saw one or two small crabs that were covered by a small amount of fuel, but I did not see any other fish or birds that had fuel on them. Also, the people living there do not use the water in the klong,” Mr Pakin said.

He said the water samples were sent to the Pollution Control Department in Bangkok, and the results are expected within 15 days.

 

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