Eastern ThailandEnvironmentPollution

Locals seek 5 billion baht from oil spill

PHOTO: Local villagers and small businesses are seeking five billion baht in damages from last year's oil spill. (via Chanklang Kanthong / Greenpeace)

After an oil spill a year ago, villagers and small businesses in Rayong are suing all involved and seeking 5 billion baht in damages. Star Petroleum Refining (SPRC), PTT Global Chemical and several government agencies are named in the suit for their part in the oil spill last January.

The lawsuits have been filed by the Rising Sun law firm, which is representing the group of 837 plaintiffs. The lawsuits allege that the underwater oil pipelines owned by Star Petroleum were poorly maintained and that led to a leak into the sea of an estimated 50,000 litres of oil.

The oil from the spill made its way to the shoreline of the eastern province of Rayong, resulting in harm to both the local environment and the tourism industry in the area.

The lawsuits against PTT and SPRC also cite the inadequate handling of the leak and the use of excessive amounts of dispersant during the cleanup process. Rising Sun is also demanding that the companies establish a 5 billion baht rehabilitation fund for the villagers impacted by the oil spill.

Star Petroleum said it can’t comment about ongoing legal cases, but has reported that it has already provided 337 million baht in aid after the oil spill to 12,361 of the affected people. Last year Star said it spent 1.4 billion baht on disaster relief, though many villagers and small businesses have seen nothing so far.

The Director-General of the Department of Marine and Coastal Resources reported that those who have not been compensated are seeking restitution.

“About 70% of those who have been affected have received assistance from the companies. But some have not received what they demanded and they are within their right to take legal action.”

PTT Global Chemical and Chevron, which holds a 60.56% stake in Star Petroleum, did not make any comments or respond to media inquiries.

Separate legal actions were taken against Thai government agencies to expedite the rehabilitation of the Rayong ecosystem, and to hold Star Petroleum Refining and PTT Global Chemical accountable for creating a rehabilitation fund for the affected villagers, worth 5 billion baht.

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Neill Fronde

Neill is a journalist from the United States with 10+ years broadcasting experience and national news and magazine publications. He graduated with a degree in journalism and communications from the University of California and has been living in Thailand since 2014.