ASIA NEWS NETWORK
WE KNOW ASIA BETTER
Publication Date : 05-08-2013
A Public Health Ministry inspection of seafood collected from areas near Ban Phe on the coast in Rayong - near sites hit by a crude oil spill in the Gulf - has found no mercury or heavy metal in excess of safe levels.
Tests had been done on urine samples from 252 of 1,522 people exposed to oil during the ongoing cleanup on Ao Phrao beach on Koh Samet, but no irregularities had been found, Health Minister Pradit Sinthawanarong said yesterday.
Eight samples of green mussel and fish were collected from markets in the district and nearby tambon Klaeng. Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon and mercury, which are harmful to human health, were not found in the samples.
Tests for three other toxic heavy metals - arsenic, lead and cadmium - were being done, with results expected to be known next week, Pradit said.
People who gave urine samples include volunteer cleaners, plus members of the media, executives from relevant agencies who visited Ao Phrao or Koh Samet.
They had been registered for follow-up tests over the next five years, and annual examination, he said.
The ministry was monitoring the health of local people to give them physical and psychological care, if needed, the minister said, as well as educating them on how to choose safe seafood and drinking water.
The Department of Marine and Coastal Resources is conducting an inspection of seven aspects of the coastal ecosystem - oceanography, coastal ecology, coral reefs, marine seagrass, mangroves, rare marine life and seabirds - to determine if it has been affected by the spill, and by how much, Natural Resources and Environment Minister Vichet Kasemthongsri said.
Results from this study would decide how much environmental damage has been done, if any, as that would be used for reference in any future lawsuits demanding compensation, he said.
The department is working on cleaning the beach at Ao Phrao and dealing with oil in the sea and near Koh Samet, he said.
Existing infrastructure, including waste-water treatment operations and landscaping on the island - famous among tourists - would be re-organised.
Vichet spoke after inspecting Ao Phrao yesterday, as well as Lam Ya-Koh Samet National Park off Rayong. Meanwhile, he said departmental officials were also giving advice on how to conduct a further recovery and treat toxic leaks to PTT Global Chemical, which owns the pipeline that was the cause of the leak.