The lawsuits allege the lack of maintenance of an underwater oil pipeline belonging to the Star Petroleum company, which last January leaked approximately 50,000 liters of oil into the sea, said the Rising Sun law firm, which represents a group of 837 plaintiffs.
Some of the oil washed ashore in the eastern province of Rayong, causing damage to the environment and tourism.
Law firm Rising Sun said the lawsuits included complaints of failure to address leaks and the overuse of a dispersant to clean water. Various lawsuits were filed against Thai government agencies to accelerate the restoration of the Rayong ecosystem and to pressure Star Petroleum Refining and PTT Global Chemical to establish a 5 billion baht citizen rehabilitation fund.
Star Petroleum said in an email that it has provided 337 million baht to help 12,361 people so far and cannot comment on legal cases.
PTT Global Chemical did not immediately respond to a Reuters request for comment. Chevron, which owns 60.56% of Star Petroleum, declined to comment.
Last year, Star Petroleum spent $42 million on emergency response and financial assistance to those affected.
“Approximately 70% of those affected have received help from companies,” Athapol Charoenshunsa, Director General of the Ministry of Maritime Affairs and Marine Resources told Reuters on Monday.
“But some have not got what they want and they are within their right to take legal action,” said Athapol.
($1 = 32.7400 baht)
(Reporting by Panu Wongcha-um, Panarat Thepgumpanat and Chayut Setboonsarng; Editing by Kanupriya Kapoor)