Speaking to The Phuket News today (Feb 23), Dr Vipawee Dummee, a lecturer at the Faculty of Technology and Environment of the Prince of Songkla University, said, “After carrying out an inspection at Tritrang Beach, at the south end of Patong, this morning I found that the soft corals are starting to suffer from bleaching.
“It proves that the issue of untreated wastewater being released into the sea here is not yet over. It also shows us that the release of this untreated wastewater into the sea is having an impact on the marine environment.
“We found that the soft corals, which are called Mushroom Leather Corals, or Sarcophyton sp, covering an area of about one rai is being damaged.
“The bleaching is starting to occur when small parts of the raw sewage drop onto the corals. It is blenching right now,” she said.
“I suspect that the wastewater being released into the Pak Bang Canal is then flowing into the sea at Tritrang Beach.
“I have just taken soil samples and will check them for sulfide, organic matter, pH and heavy metals. I will have the results next week.
“When I receive those results I will know how much damage is being caused to the soft corals,” she added.
“We are monitoring this situation closely. I just hope the corals will survive in this situation.
“There is no technology to clean up sea floor or remove these toxic agents,” Dr Vipawee concluded.
Initially it was a fault in the construction of the upgrade to the Patong Wastewater Treatment Plant that was said to have allowed raw sewage to flow untreated into Patong Bay. Patong Mayor Chalermluck Kebsup confirmed the news on Feb 9. (See story here.)
However, on Feb 10, Mayor Chalermluck has requested patience regarding information on wastewater released into Patong Bay, visibly turning the seawater at the end of Patong Beach black, as officials investigate the source of the problem.
“We are not sure yet if it came from our wastewater treatment facility, because it was quite far away, about a kilometre from the wastewater treatment tanks,” she said. (See story here.)