Court orders PTTGC payout to fishermen

The Rayong provincial court yesterday ordered PTT Global Chemical Plc (PTTGC) to pay compensation of 90,000 baht each to 429 fishermen affected by an oil spill in 2013.

The amount of compensation was decided upon based on the determined three-month period in which the fishermen’s work opportunities were impacted by the pollution.

Although the Rayong provincial court ruled in their favour yesterday, a local fishermen’s group has threatened to lodge an appeal to the higher court to force PTTGC, the company responsible for the spill, to provide better ecological rehabilitation measures, according to Sor Rattanamee Polkla, the lawyer representing the fishermen.

The plaintiffs already filed a complaint to the Rayong Court in 2014, demanding the establishment of a rehabilitation fund and compensation.

About 50,000 litres of crude oil leaked into the sea about 20km southeast of the Map Ta Phut Industrial Park in Rayong province in July 2013 from a pipeline unloading a tanker’s cargo. About 5,000 litres are estimated to have washed up on Ao Phrao, causing the beach to turn black for several weeks.

The spill polluted Ao Phrao beach on Koh Samet and later spread to the mainland in Rayong.

The villagers, who are mostly fishermen, said marine life has disappeared.

“The local fishermen didn’t care about an amount of money paid by the company, but they really need to see meaningful ecological rehabilitation measures that can return a good marine environment to the villagers. The condition of that environment has not fully recovered,” said Ms Sor Rattanamee.

In 2016, a civil court ordered the firm to pay 203 plaintiffs compensation between 30,000 baht and 50,000 baht each depending on the extent of the damage. That court had ordered the company to pay for the rehabilitation of the marine environment.

But the verdicts are still not enough to pacify the fishermen who found their resources depleted after the spill.

“If the rehabilitation process had been taken seriously, we would have seen aquatic animals return by now. But the local fishermen are still suffering from a lack of previously common fish in the area,” said Ms Sor Rattanamanee.

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