Oil workers race to protect beaches from spills off Thai coast


BANGKOK, Jan 28 (Reuters) – Hundreds of workers set up oil barriers along beaches in Thailand’s eastern Rayong province on Friday as authorities scrambled to limit environmental damage by liters of oil that leaked from an undersea pipeline earlier this week.

The leak from a pipeline owned by Star Petroleum Refining Public Company Limited (SPRC) (SPRC.BK) began late Tuesday and was brought under control a day later after approximately 50,000 liters (13,209 gallons) of oil spilled into the ocean 20 kilometers away. (12.4 miles) from the east coast of Thailand. Read more

A 47 square kilometer area of ​​sea was affected and an oil slick drifted near the coast of Rayong on Friday, a satellite image from the government’s Geo-informatics and Space Technology Development Agency (GISTDA) showed.

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The navy, which is working to contain the spill at sea, said it could take more than a month to restore affected beach areas.

On Friday, SPRC workers deployed long inflatable barriers near the tide line, designed to prevent the slick from marring tropical beaches. Authorities have previously warned that the spill could impact nearby Khao Lam Ya National Park, home to exotic coral reefs and marine life.

The Thai government has filed a formal complaint seeking compensation for damage caused by the oil spill, Deputy Transport Minister Atirat Ratanasate told reporters on Friday.

In 2013, an oil spill from another undersea pipeline blackened Rayong’s beaches and caused environmental damage that took months to recover, affecting local fishing and tourism.

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Additional reporting by Panarat Thepgumpanat and Panu Wongcha-um; Editing by John Geddie

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