Phuket Gazette Thailand News: Suit filed against PTTGC; Sting operation ends in shoot-out; Flash floods hit Mae Sot; Social media shows outrage over oil spill, calls for hair donations[VIDEO]


– Thailand news compiled by Gazette editors for Phuket’s international community

Case filed against PTTGC
The Nation / Phuket Gazette

PHUKET: The Marine Department yesterday lodged a police complaint against PTT Global Chemical over the crude oil leak from the undersea pipeline it owns in the Gulf of Thailand.

The department’s strategic move is aimed at ensuring the public company takes responsibility for cleaning the oil spill and paying compensation, which could potentially amount to a 2.3 billion baht loss for the tourism sector and a 5.4 million baht daily loss by the fishing industry.

Sorrrasak Saensombat, director-general of the department, said the total damage from the spill and the loss in revenue for the tourism, business and fishery industries had not been included in the suit, pending estimates from aggrieved parties. It is not yet known through which legal channel the suit will be processed – administrative, civil or environmental – after the complaint was lodged with a local police station in Rayong.

He said the severity of the leak was at the intermediate Level 2, which requires state intervention in the salvage operation and clean-up. Level 3 is for the heaviest damage, which needs foreign-supported salvaging operations, and Level 1 is for moderate leakage, which can be salvaged by the private sector.

Transport Minister Chadchart Sittipunt called the first meeting of a national body tasked with dealing with an oil spill or recovery, three days after the oil leak was reported on Saturday morning.

The little-known Prevention and Elimination of Marine Pollution Caused by Oil Spill committee under the PM’s Office was formed in 1995 with the transport minister as its chair and the director-general of the Marine Department as its secretary.

Sorrrasak said the oil slick has reached the Rayong coast while the thick crude oil that has dirtied Ao Phrao has been contained.

The bay, popular with tourists, would be cleaned almost completely within a few days, and the black globules could be removed from the beach and sea within a week.

PTTGC president Bowon Vongsinudom said the spill that was spreading into the sea had already been stopped and that the recovery process would be initiated as soon as possible.

“The oil film spreading across the sea near Rayong’s Samet Island will be naturally destroyed by bacteria within two weeks,” he added.

After completing the clean-up, a third-party assessor would be deployed to estimate the environmental damage and lay out recovery plans.

Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra, who is on an overseas trip, has ordered a systematic response to cope with the oil leak. Minister of Energy Pongsak Ruktapongpisa said all parties affected by the leak would be compensated.

He said he preferred to see negotiations between both parties rather than lawsuits in terms of compensatory payments, because the PTTGC was willing to make immediate amends, while the lawsuits would take time.

Chairat Trirattanajarasporn, head of Rayong Tourism Association, said the local tourism industry had lost about one-fifth of its annual revenue of Bt16 billion, or about Bt3.2 billion so far, while a group of fishermen said they were losing Bt5.4 million in daily revenue.

Most room reservations have been cancelled even though Phrao Bay makes up only 5 per cent of the island’s entire area.

Natural Resources and Environment Minister Vichet Kasemthongsri told the Cabinet meeting that PTT, of which PTTGC is a group company, was covered by a Bt1.5-billion insurance policy and could use the payout to help defray the damage..

Drug suspects killed in sting operations
The nation / Phuket Gazette

PHUKET: A sting operation during which Narcotics Suppression Police officers tried to buy 400 ya bah tablets from five drug suspects, turned into a gunfight early yesterday in Chumphon’s Lamae district, resulting in one suspect being killed and a policeman injured.

A suspect was also killed in a similar sting operation in Bangkok yesterday.

After hearing of a gunfight at around 5am, Lamae police rushed to the site to find a Mitsubishi sedan on Lamae-Khao Chamod Road with dozens of spent bullets and Pol Sr Sgt-Major Thammanoon Nokkhao slumped with a wound on his left shoulder. After following a trail of blood into a rubber plantation about 300 metres away, police found the body of suspect Tinnakorn Boonmak, 25, being held by his mother.

Police also found on Tinnakorn’s body the 50,000 baht officers used to buy the drugs and the suspect’s pistol nearby. A manhunt has been launched for the four other suspects who fled the scene.

Pol Major Apichart Jiapanich, who led the sting operation, said the team aimed to crack a gang of drug dealers led by a native of Surat Thani’s Than Chana district identified as “First Thathai”.

The gang had changed the venue for the exchange twice before agreeing to meet on the Lamae-Khao Chamod Road. However, when the police tried to arrest the suspects, they opened fire.

Meanwhile, Narcotics Suppression Police officers also exchanged gunfire with drug suspects at the Thewakam intersection in Bangkok’s Nang Lerng area yesterday afternoon. One suspect had been reported killed and one wounded. A stray bullet also hit a female student nearby.

Border trade halted as Mae Sot inundated
The Nation / Phuket Gazette

PHUKET: Tak’s Mae Sot district continued to suffer from what has been described as the worst flooding to hit the area in 20 years, with the rising Moei River bringing Thai-Myanmar border trade to a total halt for four days, causing 1.2 billion in lost business.

Banpot Korkiatcharoen, honorary chairman of the Tak provincial chamber of commerce, said the flood situation in Mae Sot had stabilised, and cars could access roads, but Rim Moei Market along the border was still inundated. He described the flooding, which was triggered by a week of rainfall, as the worst in 20 years as it had lasted for four days and counting – compared to previous flash floods that lasted two days at most. Mae Sot’s economy, in particular its B300-million-a-day border trade, had been adversely affected, he said.

As some areas of Mae Sot were still without power due to the high waters, Tak Deputy Governor Suwat Phronsuwan yesterday morning presented 500 relief bags and 500 bags of rice to residents of 20 flood-hit communities at Wat Don Kaew School.

Deputy Prime Minister Niwattumrong Boonsongpaisan said after a cabinet meeting yesterday that Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra, who is on an overseas trip, was greatly concerned about flooding in 25 provinces and had instructed the Interior Ministry and the Disaster Prevention and Mitigation Department to speedily aid flood-hit people.

Two villages at the foot of Khao Yai in Prachin Buri’s Muang district were hit by a flash flood late on Monday night. Local officials planned to dredge Khlong Chanthu to help drain floodwater into the Prachin Buri River more quickly.

In Kanchanaburi’s Sangkhlaburi district, forest run-off swept about 30 food-sellers’ rafts, along with floating fish baskets, some 40 kilometres down river, tambon Wang Ka mayor Pakorn Noiket said yesterday. Pakorn was inspecting the scene of a landslide that damaged a 50-metre-long section of pipeline supp

— Phuket Gazette Editors

Thailand News

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