Manila Bulletin

Thai­land tries to tackle mass of ocean trash

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BANGKOK (AFP) – Thai au­thor­i­ties are try­ing to clean up a mas­sive, onek­ilo­me­ter long tan­gle of trash, of­fi­cials said Fri­day, call­ing it the largest garbage heap to float through the king­dom’s waters.

The mass of de­bris was es­ti­mated to weigh some 300 tons, said So­pon Thongdee, deputy di­rec­tor of Thai­land’s Marine and Coastal Re­sources Depart­ment.

“In all my work­ing life I’ve never seen an amount of garbage this huge,” he told AFP, adding that it was first spot­ted off of south­ern Chumpon prov­ince and has since floated north.

Au­thor­i­ties be­lieve much of the de­tri­tus was car­ried into the ocean by floods that swept through Thai­land’s south in Jan­uary.

Four ships have been mo­bi­lized to re­trieve the trash – a task made more dif­fi­cult as the clus­ter be­gan to break off into smaller chunks on Fri­day, said So­pon.

Thai­land is one of the world’s top con­sumers of plas­tic bags and a ma­jor con­trib­u­tor to ocean waste.

In a re­cent re­port, US-based ad­vo­cacy group Ocean Con­ser­vancy es­ti­mated that Thai­land was one of just five coun­tries re­spon­si­ble for as much as 60 per­cent of plas­tic waste dumped into the ocean.

The other na­tions are China, In­done­sia, Philip­pines and Viet­nam.

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