NAI YANG: In response to complaints from both tourists and Thais about tar washing up on Phuket’s beaches, a team of local government officials and environmental experts investigated the problem at Nai Yang Beach yesterday. The investigation was led by the Phuket Health Office and the Phuket Marine Biological Center (PMBC) at the request of Phuket Governor Charnchai Soontharamut. Phuket Vice Governor Vongsak Sawasdipanich accompanied the team to Nai Yang and told the Gazette that there are two factors causing the tar to wash up on the beaches. The first is bunker oil discarded by large ships when they clean their tanks. The second is accidents at sea, such as collisions. However, officials present at the investigation downplayed the dangers posed by the tar. “I don’t think tourists need to worry about this, because there are no leaking oil sources around Phuket, said Vice Governor Vongsak. “We are going to send our report to the Foreign Ministry, as this problem concerns international shipping and the World Trade Organization (WTO),” he added. Somkiat Kohkiatiwong, a marine biologist at PMBC, said, “This problem is really nothing new. In fact, it has existed for over 20 years, and not only in Phuket. It is quite common to see tar on beaches during the low season, as storms often carry it to our shores. “This problem was studied a long time ago, and it was determined then that it didn’t pose any danger to either people or marine life, as the amount of tar is not great,” he added. Vice Governor Vongsak said that he would recommend to Governor Charnchai that groups be set up by local OrBorTor to keep beaches in their areas clean during the low season.
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