Oil spill on Phuket beaches met with quick cleanup response

PHOTO: Oil and tar balls began washing ashore on the beaches in northwest Phuket. (via Flickr / Geoff Livingston)

Late yesterday afternoon marked the start of a clean-up operation on the northwest shores of Phuket. Beachgoers were met with harrowing sight of oil and tar balls, accompanied by traces of oil slick that had made their unpleasant appearance on the beaches.

The beaches targeted by the operation included locations at Nai Yang, Mai Khao, Nai Thon, and Layan. The pollutants had been carried by the titanic force of the prevailing southwestern monsoon before washing up onto the sandy shores.

Diligent officials of Sirinath National Park took charge of the situation and created teams to attend to these beaches distressed by grimy mess. The park’s head officer, Sorasak Rananan was informed by a senior park ranger stationed at the Layan Beach about the unpleasant discovery of an extended line of black oil slick that had washed ashore late yesterday.

No time was wasted by Sorasak in communicating with crucial environmental agencies. Among them were the Upper Andaman Coast Marine Resources Research Center, the Region 15 (Phuket) Office of the Environment and Natural Resources, and some additional relevant bodies. They promptly began the inspection of the compromised region at Layan Beach and the beaches at Nai Yang, Nai Thon, and Mai Khao.

Officials found lumpy oil and tar balls shrouded by oil slicks at each location. They collected samples to try to uncover the exact source of the sticky pollution and to identify possible remedies. Efficient clean-up teams made up of park officials, lifeguards, and volunteers tirelessly worked at each of the four destinations to rid the beaches of polluting substances and other random debris.

As a word of caution, officials of the national park have also advised the public against swimming in the waters at the four beaches due to potential remnants of the oil slick still in the shore waters.

The rapid clean-up efforts followed reports about oil pollution around midday yesterday. The reports were sounded by the Sustainable Mai Khao group, environmental advocates who were conducting preliminary checks at the Mai Khao Beach in preparation for a CSR clean-up event. When 50 participants from Kearney – Management Consulting were deployed, they encountered oil on the beaches unexpectedly.

Sustainable Mai Khao continued to share more disheartening discoveries in the afternoon at around 2.40 pm. A series of small, notoriously hard-to-remove tar balls were found littering the beach. They went live on social media to spread the word quickly.

“It’s back. The dreaded tar balls are back. We initially thought it was just an oil spill from regular oil, but it appears to be sticky tar that we’ve encountered several times before.”

Environment NewsPhuket News

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.

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