Officials from Phuket’s Marine Department are checking on shipping that have passed the island over the last week, after oil slicks were spotted on several beaches in the north of the island. The oil presence, in places, is as ‘tar balls’ which are very sticky and difficult to clean up.
Thai PBS World reports that officials want to determine if any passing vessels discharged engine or bunker oil into the waters around Phuket. Oil slicks have been found at Mai Khao, Nai Yang, Nai Thon, and Layan Beaches, in the northern section of the island’s west coast beaches. According to the Phuket News, there have also been reports of oil slicks along the island’s popular Patong Beach.
On Saturday, August 5, officials launched a large clean-up operation with officials from Sirinart National Park, lifeguards, and volunteers taking part. In one instance, a young green sea turtle was found covered in oil on Layan Beach, in front of the Angsana Laguna Hotel at northern Bang Tao Beach.
The turtle was rescued and taken to the rare marine species rescue centre, where the oil was cleaned off. The Phuket News reports that in another rescue, officials also had to clean oil off a stricken bird.
The deputy director-general of the Marine and Coastal Resources Department has ordered an immediate investigation after being informed about the oil slicks. Apichai Ekvanakun says oil samples have been collected from the beaches and sent for testing, to check if they are engine oil or bunker oil.
Meanwhile, the official advice for beachgoers is not to enter the water at beaches where oil slicks have been spotted.