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Rayong oil spill dangers remain despite clean-up, say US experts

Publication Date : 09-09-2013

 

Despite the clean-up efforts of PTT Global Chemical in the early stages of the recent oil spill at Rayong province's Koh Samet, the re-emergence and long-term impact of submerged oil should be inspected, according to US experts.

"It's believed by the oil company that the oil dispersant can improve the overall oil-spill conditions, but there are many unknown long-term impacts of the use of the dispersant on marine life and public health," said David Krause, an expert with US-based Geosyntec Consultants.

Krause was with the teams that responded to the 2010 Deep Water Horizon spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

He said oil companies worldwide had used the same dispersant to contain spills as they believed it could make the oil disappear from the sea's surface as rapidly as possible.

But in fact, the spilled oil was merely submerged by the dispersants and could cause long-term environmental impacts on marine life.

"The impact of the oil spill will go on for quite some time and may involve more clean-up events, diminished health of marine life, and increased stress on the food chain," he said.

Krause was speaking to the media during the three-day 34th International Environment Forum "Pacem in Maribus", held in Bangkok, on the topic "Hazards to the World's Oceans".

Contamination from oil spills under the sea can be harmful to seafood and those who consume it.

It can take several seasons for contaminants to break down and pose no further risk, Krause explained.

On concerns about whether it is safe to consume seafood from the area in the long term, Krause said well-established methods to measure any oil-related contaminants in fish from local waters were needed.

To date there are many studies under way to find out the impact of submerged oil on coral reefs and sea creatures such as crab, shrimp and oysters.

"The submerged oil sometimes will not kill marine life but it could weaken it," he said.

Robert Bruce, a principal of Geosyntec Consultants, said storms and changing sea currents could cause the re-emergence of the submerged oil along the coastal areas.

 

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