Oil still leaking from sunken fishing boat off Koh Lipe

PHUKET CITY: Oil continues to rise to the surface from a sunken fishing vessel off the coast of Satun, endangering marine life and threatening the tourism industry of nearby Koh Lipe.

Yesterday, Alee Suksuwan, head of the Satun Provincial Environmental Protection department, visited the site where oil continues to break the surface from the fuel tank of the vessel, which sits at a depth of 42 meters about two nautical miles west of the resort island of Koh Lipe.

The initial site survey, made aboard a Phang Nga-based Navy patrol vessel, was conducted with Ecomarine Company Ltd representative Pootipong Jirayutwiboon.

Ecomarine Co is drawing up a budget for emergency response work to contain the oil slick by using sorbent booms and treating it with special dispersing chemicals.

Questioning of local residents revealed that the source of the oil is a 70-meter fishing vessel that was designed to process catch into fishmeal at sea.

The vessel, whose original port was in the Kantang District of Trang Province, went down with an estimated 60,000 liters of fuel about 13 or 14 years ago.

After the sinking, it was determined that the vessel, with a beam of 12 meters, was too large to salvage.

Satun Governor Sumeth Chailertwanichkul has agreed in principal to provide an emergency budget of three to four million baht to conduct the clean-up operation, but is still waiting for navy divers to inspect and videotape the leak before signing off on the work

Meanwhile, the oil slick has already affected much of Koh Lipe, with the worst-hit area near Ao Pramong (Fisherman’s Cove) on the north coast of the island.

— Surasak Saleemean

Phuket News

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