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Star Petroleum Promises to Pay for Oil Spill Cleanup South of Bangkok

marine department
Courtesy Thailand Marine Department

Published Feb 1, 2022 12:22 AM by The Maritime Executive

Thai oil refiner Star Petroleum has agreed to pay for cleanup costs after a pipeline broke off the coast of Thailand's Rayong Province, spilling an estimated 40,000 gallons of oil into the water. The breach occurred last week in a pipeline for a refinery's loading buoy, and the oil has drifted ashore at Mae Ramphueng, a popular beach destination about 90 miles to the southeast of Bangkok. 

The governor of Rayong Province declared the area a disaster zone on Saturday, initiating a state of emergency and banning casual visitors from the site. The order affects the area's shops and restaurants, which will not be able to serve visitors, according to local media. 

Spill response officials have been using booms, skimmers and dispersants to remove the slick from the surface. Thailand's Pollution Control Department (PCD) has promised to hold Star Petroleum to account for "every penny" of the cost to remediate the spill. 

Thai response officials are hoping to prevent the spill from spreading to Phrao Beach, a white-sand resort destination on nearby Koh Samet island. So far, favorable winds have kept the slick from moving in that direction, according to Varawut Silpa-archa, Thailand's minister of the environment. "We need to wait and see for at least one week, making sure that the dispersed oil is no longer found here," he told the Bangkok Post. 

However, Koh Samet's tourism industry is warning that the spill will cost its hotels and restauarants an estimated $45 million in lost business over the span of its peak season, which started this month.