Thailand’s Koh Samet oil spill could impact fishing industry
As if it’s not bad enough that Thailand’s Koh Samet oil spill, which occurred on Saturday, is causing thousands of tourists to leave the Thai island, Greenpeace Southeast Asia now says the Koh Samet oil spill could impact Thailand’s fishing industry, as the oil continues to spread and continues to move towards the mainland.
What caused the latest Thailand oil spill?
The latest Thailand oil spill (we’ve had others in the last few years) occurred after a leak appeared in a pipeline in the Gulf of Thailand, approximately 20 miles off the Thai mainland. Oil continued to pump out of the leak until operators PTT realized what was happening and managed to plug the leak.
The problem is at least 50,000 litres of oil had pumped out of the leak before PTT was able to close it and, as it looks like PTT has been downplaying the leak all along, at least according to the Thai government, that amount could be much higher.
Koh Samet oil leak impacting tourist industry
There’s not much on Koh Samet except for a thriving tourist industry, which means almost everyone living there relies on tourists for their livelihood. So, now that thousands of tourists are leaving the island, even from areas of Koh Samet not currently affected by the oil leak, the impact on Koh Samet’s tourist industry is likely to be devastating.
If you plan on visiting Koh Samet in the coming days and weeks, however, as long as you are not visiting the Ao Phrao area of the island, you’re not likely to be impacted as gulf streams and winds will keep the oil slick away.
More than 300 soldiers and PTT employees are also already on Koh Samet cleaning up the oil spill, with a noticeable decrease of oil on Ao Phrao in the last 48 hours.
Koh Samet oil spill and the Thai fishing industry
An even bigger concern for Thai officials, however, is the possibility that the Koh Samet oil spill could affect the Thai fishing industry. It’s a multi-billion dollar industry and, if the oil spill continues to spread and particularly if it spreads towards the mainland, the fishing industry could be at risk from chemical contaminants.
As it stands at the moment, however, PTT has managed to keep the spill relatively contained and hope that, unless weather conditions drastically change, they should be able to continue to do so. If that happens, the impact on Thailand’s fishing industry will hopefully be minimal.
As for the cost of clean-up, Natural Resources and Environment Minister Wichet Kasemthongsri says it’s up to the polluter, PTT, to pay for the clean-up. Good for him!
Meanwhile, watch the video below to see just how bad the Koh Samet oil spill is and, yes, it’s bad.