Major clean-up after oil spill spreads to Singapore beaches
Part of Changi Beach closed after Singapore is hit by worst oil spill since 2010
The oil spill in the Johor Strait on Tuesday night has sparked a massive clean-up after the tar-like slick reached the north-eastern coast of Singapore.
A collision between two container vessels near Pasir Gudang Port in Johor had damaged one of their bunker tanks and caused the spillage of 300 tonnes of oil.
The Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore said in a statement yesterday that 17 vessels and 222 personnel had been deployed for the clean-up.
Patches of oil could be seen off Cafhi Jetty and the shorelines of Pasir Ris Beach, Punggol Beach and Changi Beach, which seemed to be the worst hit.
The offshore islands of Pulau Ubin and Coney Island were also affected.
Cleaning along the western coastlines of Pulau Ubin and Nenas Channel is in progress.
Yesterday morning, National Environment Agency (NEA) contractors were seen bringing up oil absorbents stained with oil onto a vessel, while workers packed oil-stained sand into trash bags, The Straits Times reported online.
Equipment to skim oil from the water surface and prevent it from spreading was also deployed at the affected areas.
Workers were seen putting up sign boards advising people to stay away from the contaminated waters and that the beach was closed.
NEA said that an affected 800m stretch of Changi Beach had been closed to beachgoers until further notice.
A 100m stretch at Noordin Beach at Pulau Ubin is also being cleaned. Cleaning at Punggol Beach and Pasir Ris Beach was completed yesterday afternoon.
"Members of the public are advised to exercise caution when visiting these beaches and to avoid the affected stretches where cleaning operations are still ongoing," said NEA.
I had never seen a spill this bad. There was a strong chemical stench that made me feel dizzy.Mr Colin Koh
Among those affected was Mr Colin Koh, 53, director at Asian Detours, an outdoor adventure company that is usually bustling with kayakers on weekends.
He told The New Paper: "The weekend is usually our peak period and we can have up to six groups, totalling 20 to 40 people. But we have postponed all the tours for the remainder of this week."
After Mr Koh checked the spill yesterday to find out the extent of the damage, he described it as one of the worst spills he had seen in his 31 years.
"I had never seen a spill this bad. There was a strong chemical stench that made me feel dizzy," he said.
Worried about how long the clean-up would take, Mr Koh said that even a 10 per cent drop in business would be a huge blow because Asian Detours is not a big company.
"I usually lead kayaking expeditions three times a week. It is my passion, lifeblood and my rice bowl," he said.
"It is the same for my employees and all the expedition leaders out there."
This is the first major oil spill to affect Singapore since 2010, when 2,500 tonnes of crude oil leaked into the Singapore Strait south of the mainland, after a ship collision.