The condition of Hua Hin beaches has returned to normal, after oil slicks in the area in late October have been cleared. Prachuap Khiri Khan Governor Tawee Naritsirikul has expressed his gratitude to all concerned parties for their collaborative efforts with all the oil slicks and garbage cleared from the 12-kilometre Hua Hin Beach. Tawee confirmed that international tourists are already enjoying themselves along the beach once again. The governor said that he has authorised all district chiefs to make decisions and give orders to concerned agencies to handle future unexpected incidents with timely solutions and to later report their performances to him or the deputy governor.
Meanwhile, Wasan Kittikul, Chairman of the Thai Hotels Association, Western Region, insisted that the problem of oil slicks has not caused damages of over 100 million baht in Hua Hin and adjacent seaside Cha-Am area in Phetchaburi Province as rumoured. Wasan also revealed that there have been no cancelations of local hotel rooms by international tourists, calling on concerned agencies to implement stricter measures to avoid any repeated incident in the future although the situation has already returned to normal.
The Marine and Coastal Resources Research and Development Institute said that oil spills happen often in Thai seawaters, as 13 were reported between September 2014 and last month. Seven of the oil spills occurred in Rayong, where a major industrial port is situated. Institute director Pinsak Suraswadi said the affected area from the oil spill was more than 100 square kilometres. Regarding prevention of oil spills in future, Kritpetch Chaichuay, director of the Marine Safety and Environment Bureau, said technology would be brought in to enhance sea surveillance.
“The Marine Department is working with relevant agencies to tighten sea inspections, and we are planning to introduce radar technology,” Kritpetch said. “We are also using satellite images provided by the Geo-Informatics and Space Technology Development Agency to keep an eye on the oil spill in the sea, so that we can clean up the mess before it reaches the shore.”
He warned that discharging oil into the sea was illegal and those who did so would be punished with three years’ imprisonment and a 60,000 THB fine. They also have to pay for damage caused by the contamination. A joint committee is being formed to investigate the cause of the oil slick that polluted a 10-kilometre stretch of beach between Hua Hin and Khao Takiap in Prachuap Khiri Khan Province.
The investigation was confirmed by Veerasak Puengrassami, acting directorgeneral of the Mineral Fuels Department of the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment. The samples have been sent to a laboratory in Belgium for analysis and the results were expected in December. The findings would show whether the oil came from any of the petroleum-related activities in the Gulf of Thailand, he said. Initial checks with companies involved in the drilling, production and delivery of crude oil in the Gulf of Thailand indicated there had been no reported oil leakages, Mr Veerasak added.