Aug 05, 2013

    Thailand probes impact of oil spill on seafood

    THAILAND'S state health agency has said it will study the impact of an oil spill on marine life around Koh Samet's Ao Phrao beach, in Rayong province, adding that toxic substances from the crude oil may enter the food chain in the next three months.

    The Natural Resources and Environment Ministry has set up a committee to monitor the environmental impact of the spill.

    The Marine and Coastal Resources Department will assess the leak's impact on coral reefs and sea grass around Koh Samet. The assignment also covers efforts to determine why marine life was found beached and dead in the area.

    PTT Global Chemical, the company behind the spill, will kick off another cleaning session today and is calling for volunteers.

    Meanwhile, Disease Control Department director-general Pornthep Siriwanarangsun will collect random samples of seafood around the affected areas to see if they are safe for consumption.

    "It is too early to say the marine aquatic animals living around the affected areas have been tainted with hazardous substances such as lead, cadmium or nickel," he said.

    "It will take at least three months for marine life, such as plankton - the main food for many aquatic animals - to be contaminated."

    He also suggested that people cook seafood longer and at high temperatures to reduce any toxicity. Hazardous substances from the crude oil can cause short-term health issues such as dizziness and depression, as well as longer-term problems such as affecting red and white blood cells, Dr Pornthep said.

    Since the Ao Phrao beach clean-up began last Monday, the department reported that up to 70 workers had developed symptoms such as nausea and dizziness, and had to be taken to hospital.

    Five days after the crude oil washed up on the shores of Ao Phrao, sand that had been completely black looked cleaner and was expected to return to its normal state in the near future.

    Separately, Mr Sumet Saithong, chief of the Khao Laem Ya-Koh Samet Marine National Park, said his team had surveyed up to 70 per cent of the coral reef in the area as of last Thursday.

    The survey will be analysed by experts to see what happened under the sea in the affected site and nearby areas.