PAP Government ramps up efforts to mitigate impact of the oil spill


Extensive measures are underway to mitigate the impact of the oil spill caused by the collision between a dredging boat and a bunker vessel at Pasir Panjang Terminal.

In a recent Facebook post, Transport Minister Chee Hong Tat said that the Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore (MPA) responded within 11 minutes of being notified of the accident, to contain any further oil leaks from the bunker vessel which still contained 400 metric tonnes of fuel oil in its tank.

The Netherlands-flagged dredging boat Vox Maxima hit the stationary Singapore-flagged bunker vessel Marine Honour on 14 June at 2.18pm, rupturing one of its oil tanks and resulted in an oil spill which has spread to various parts of the city-state’s waters.

PAP Members of Parliament, concerned with the environmental impact of the recent oil spill, will also be raising questions in Parliament next month.   

Poh Li San, Deputy Chair of the Government Parliamentary Committee for Sustainability and Environment, told Petir that she will ask how the Ministry will ensure affected beaches and marine life are cleaned thoroughly to minimise damage. She will also inquire about preventive measures to avoid future accidents.

Rachel Ong, MP for West Coast GRC, is concerned about the Southern Islands marine protected areas. She will ask about measures taken to minimise impacts on marine life there.

Regarding health concerns, Ms Ong will inquire about risks for residents and tourists at Sentosa and Keppel Bay – which are within her constituency – from breathing in fumes from the oil spill. She will also ask about adequate protective measures for cleanup workers.

MPs also want to ensure faster responses to future oil spills to limit their spread and impacts. Nadia Ahmad Samdin, MP for Ang Mo Kio GRC and GPC member for Sustainability and Environment, will ask about standard operating procedures to contain spills and coordination for prompt sea and beach cleanups. She will inquire how citizens can help with cleanups.

Ms Ong will also ask if real-time data from Marine Environment buoys could be made available hourly to allow faster responses from fish farming and NGO communities.

She also wants to know cleanup costs; how they will be covered; and whether responsible parties will fund costs. She will inquire how long the cleanup is expected to take.

Several beaches, including East Coast Park and Sentosa’s Siloso, mostly cleared of oil

Following an oil spill last week, most Singapore beaches have been cleared of oil. According to a joint statement on June 20, authorities said clean-up efforts by the National Environment Agency progressed well at East Coast Park where most oil deposits on the beach had been removed.

The beaches at Tanah Merah have also largely been cleaned up while beaches on three Singapore islands – St John’s, Lazarus and Kusu – as well as most of Sentosa’s Siloso beach have been cleared of oily sand, the statement added.

In an earlier Facebook post on Thursday, Mr Chee said authorities have made progress cleaning up the oil, but it will still take time to completely remove it. He noted authorities are currently “focused on cleaning up the oil slicks and sheens from water and land which are visible through drone surveillance and satellite imagery”.

“In the next phase, we would need to flush out stranded oil, such as those on oil-stained rock bunds … The clean-up operation will take some time, and I would like to seek the understanding of members of the public and businesses who are affected by this incident.” 

MPA responded within 11 minutes of being alerted to oil spill: Chee Hong Tat

Mr Chee said that MPA was alerted at 2.22 pm about the incident and responded by 2.33pm to contain any further oil leaks from the bunker vessel which still contained fuel oil in its tank.

MPA immediately sprayed dispersant to treat the spilled oil to prevent it from hardening and making subsequent clean-up operations at sea and ashore more difficult. MPA’s contractor also deployed oil booms around the damaged vessel to limit further oil spill that could leak from the vessel, he added.

He added that investigations are still on-going, but preliminary findings show that the allision on 14 June was caused by the dredger experiencing sudden loss of engine and steering controls.

“It is not due to port congestion as our port waters and anchorages are not congested.”

He also sought the public’s and businesses’ understanding regarding this incident, pledging that the authorities will do their best to complete the clean up as soon as possible.

Source of images: Chee Hong Tat’s Facebook