Tanker Runs Aground In Thailand

Thai navy personnel and volunteers were struggling Monday to clean up a 52,000 gallon oil slick that threatens to pollute a popular island beach resort in eastern Thailand. The oil leaked from a Panamanian-registered tanker, the Eastern Fortitude, which hit rocks last Tuesday in the Gulf of Thailand, several kilometers off the coast of Chon Buri province. Chon Buri is about 45 miles southeast of Bangkok. The Thailand Harbor Department said it would take at least 10 more days to clean up the slick, which was 65 yards wide and about 2.5 miles long. The slick has passed through an area of more than 25 miles, moving east to Rayong province. Oil washed ashore at Mae Rampung tourist beach in Rayong early Tuesday, and the slick was now only 9 miles from Koh Samet, a resort island close to the coast which is easily reached from Bangkok. A combined task force of about 100 people from the Thai Navy, the Harbor Department and local volunteers were using chemicals to disperse the oil at sea and were scraping contaminated sands where the slick had reached the shore. The Habor Department had ordered the ship - which remains where it hit rocks off Chon Buri province - impounded and had filed a complaint to police as the first step in taking legal action against the tanker's owners. The Eastern Fortitude was insured with Britannia in London, which has agreed to pay compensation for the damage caused by the oil spill, including the cost of clean-up and for pollution of the environment.