Investigation Underway for Phuket Oil Slicks

phuket oil spills

In recent news, Natural Resources and Environment Minister Varawut Silpa-archa has ordered the Department of National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation (DNP) and the Department of Marine and Coastal Resources (DMCR) to locate the culprits responsible for the oil slicks and tar balls discovered on various beaches in Phuket last Friday.

Affected Beaches

Several beaches in Phuket, including Nai Yang, Mai Khao, Nai Thon, and Layan on the island’s northwest, reported sightings of these oil slicks. The minister emphasized the need to hold businesses accountable for their actions, especially when they pose a threat to the environment – which only recently recovered from the negative impact of mass tourism during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Impact on Tourism and Environment

Minister Varawut urged state agencies, such as the Marine Department and Tourism Ministry, to encourage business operators to act responsibly to prevent long-term damage to nature and the country’s reputation as a tourist destination.

Identifying the Source

Puripat Thirakulpisut, deputy director-general of the Marine Department, suspects the oil slicks to be bunker fuel used by marine vessels. Out of the four beach locations affected, Mai Khao beach experienced the most severe impact, with the slicks covering a 10-square-kilometer area.

Authorities are gathering information about vessels that have passed the western side of Phuket through the Vessel Traffic Service (VTS) system in the Andaman Sea. A complaint will be filed with the police to initiate an investigation.

Punishment for Offenders

Offenders found responsible for the oil slicks face up to three years in jail, a fine of up to 60,000 baht, and must also cover the costs of rehabilitation efforts. A significant clean-up operation took place over the weekend to mitigate the environmental damage.

Ongoing Efforts

The search for the source of the oil slicks continues, with authorities working to ensure the responsible parties are held accountable and that similar incidents do not occur in the future. The wellbeing of the environment and tourism industry in Phuket depends on a swift resolution to this issue.