Rayong beach reopens after oil spill clean-up operation
Rayong’s main beach is back open again after a 10-day operation to clear oil spill contamination caused by a pipeline leak in the Gulf of Thailand.
Declared a disaster zone on January 29, Mae Ramphueng Beach is now preparing to welcome back visitors with the February 12-14 “Rayong in Love” festival for Valentine’s Day.
Several kilometres of the beach were tarred after an underwater pipeline owned by Star Petroleum Refining (SPRC) leaked on January 25, releasing oil into the sea 20 kilometres southeast of Map Ta Phut Industrial Port on the eastern seaboard. Local fisheries were ordered to halt operations for at least a month until water conditions improve.
“Officials, volunteers and local communities have been working hard to eliminate oil slicks in the past week and now Mae Ramphueng Beach is oil free,” said Rayong governor Charnna Iemsaeng on Monday.
He added red flags had been removed from the beach to show that tourists can now safely swim in the sea. “As for the booms deployed in the sea to prevent the oil slick from spreading, we will try to remove them all before the festival starts,” Charnna said.
Officials are also monitoring seafood sold at markets around the beach for oil contamination, but none had been found so far, he added.
The governor said the Valentine’s festival was being organised to show that Mae Ramphueng Beach is safe for swimming and Rayong seafood is safe to eat.
“The three-day event will serve up a free buffet for all seafood lovers to enjoy. The seafood is provided by businesses affected by the oil spill who want visitors to return to Rayong.”
“Rayong in Love” will also feature daily live music performances and cooking shows. Meanwhile Muang Rayong district office will open a booth for people wishing to register their marriage on Valentine’s Day at Mae Ramphueng Beach.