On Saturday, an oil pipeline leaked 13,200 gallons of crude oil (the equivalent of one and a half tanker trucks) into the Gulf of Thailand. The oil slick is continuing to spread, blackening the beaches and water of a tourist island in the country's eastern sea.
The pipeline was operated by PTT Global Chemical Plc., a subsidiary of Thailand's state-owned oil and gas company. The leak was detected when a tanker moored offshore was transferred to the pipeline.
The company apologized Monday and said the cleanup would be finished within three days. However, according to the Associated Press, "rough seas and strong winds" have spread the slick farther north.
Tourists staying at Phrao Bay were evacuated over the weekend "as the bay turned black." The longterm impact on the island's residents and tourism industry depends on quickly the spill is cleared. One environmental activist involved in the cleanup estimated that about 1,500 soldiers, workers and volunteers are on the beach helping with the effort today.
"This is a major failure in disaster preparedness of PTTGC," said Srisuwan Janya, a lawyer and chairman of Bangkok-based Stop Global Warming Association. "They must be held responsible for having no clear guidelines on how to tackle such incident and for letting the damage spiral out of control."
Hopefully that means more than a slap on the wrist.
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[Images via Associated Press and Getty/AFP]