<p><strong>Members of Thailand's military dressed in white hazmat suits shovel oil-soaked sand from Ao Prao Beach on Thailand's Samet Island (<a href="https://maps.google.com/maps?q=Samet+Island+Phe+Rayong+Thailand&amp;hl=en&amp;ll=12.565287,101.45874&amp;spn=3.103971,4.383545&amp;sll=38.893596,-77.014576&amp;sspn=0.309431,0.547943&amp;oq=samet+island&amp;hnear=Ko+Samet&amp;t=m&amp;z=8">map</a>) on Monday after crude oil from a leak out at sea washed ashore.</strong></p><p dir="ltr"><strong>The oil spill happened on July 27 about 12 miles (20 kilometers) off the coast of Thailand's Rayong province, located southeast of the capital city of Bangkok. The source was a pipeline operated by PTT Global Chemical, a subsidiary of the state-owned oil and gas company. The company estimates that about 13,000 gallons (50,000 liters) of heavy crude oil escaped into the Gulf of Thailand. (See related quiz: "<a href="http://environment.nationalgeographic.com/environment/energy/great-energy-challenge/oil-spill-quiz/">What You Don't Know About Oil Spills</a>.")</strong></p><p dir="ltr"><a href="http://www.noaa.gov/deepwaterhorizon/people/">Doug Helton</a>, incident operations coordinator for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), said the cleanup workers in Thailand are likely taking a "triage approach" to cleaning up the spill.</p><p>"The first step in any spill is controlling the source of the oil," Helton explained. "The next step is to pick up all of the loose, mobile oil that might still be moving around. And the last stage will be the cleanup of the shore itself."</p><p><em>—Ker Than</em></p><p><em>This story is part of a </em><em>special series</em><em> that explores energy issues. For more, visit <a href="http://greatenergychallenge.com">The Great Energy Challenge</a></em><a href="http://greatenergychallenge.com">.</a></p>

Soiled Sands in Thailand

Members of Thailand's military dressed in white hazmat suits shovel oil-soaked sand from Ao Prao Beach on Thailand's Samet Island (map) on Monday after crude oil from a leak out at sea washed ashore.

The oil spill happened on July 27 about 12 miles (20 kilometers) off the coast of Thailand's Rayong province, located southeast of the capital city of Bangkok. The source was a pipeline operated by PTT Global Chemical, a subsidiary of the state-owned oil and gas company. The company estimates that about 13,000 gallons (50,000 liters) of heavy crude oil escaped into the Gulf of Thailand. (See related quiz: "What You Don't Know About Oil Spills.")

Doug Helton, incident operations coordinator for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), said the cleanup workers in Thailand are likely taking a "triage approach" to cleaning up the spill.

"The first step in any spill is controlling the source of the oil," Helton explained. "The next step is to pick up all of the loose, mobile oil that might still be moving around. And the last stage will be the cleanup of the shore itself."

—Ker Than

This story is part of a special series that explores energy issues. For more, visit The Great Energy Challenge.

Photograph by Athit Perawongmetha, Reuters

Pictures: Oil Spill Sullies Popular Tourist Beach in Thailand

A pipeline leak sent gallons of oil pouring into the Gulf of Thailand, blackening the shores of a resort area and threatening wildlife.

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