Visitors to Ao Phrao (Phrao Bay) on Thailand’s island of Koh Samet are being evacuated due to an significant oil spill that occurred July 28th. Thai officials estimate that 5,000 liters (or approx 1,300 gallons) of crude oil have washed ashore while the total spill is estimated at approximately 50,000 liters.
Some groups are questioning if 50,000 liters is a real number or if much, much more oil spilled. “If that (50,000 liters) was the real amount, they should have already eliminated it — they should have solved the problem fast enough before it reached Samet island,” said Sathit Pitutacha, from Thailand’s Democrat Party. Greenpeace, and environmental group, has called the spill “massive.”
Due to its proximity to Bangkok, Koh Samet is a very popular weekend holiday destination typically drawing large crowds. Many tourists have been displaced from hotels and forced to relocate. Some hotels have been providing vouchers to cover cost of new hotels or have provided refunds.
The company responsible for the spill has sent 300 workers to clean up the spill. The impact to tourism long term is unknown.