Oil spill off Changi East: Singapore reports

Clean-up of oil spill at Changi and East Coast to end soon
Evelyn Lam/Joanne Chan/Evelyn Choo Channel NewsAsia 29 May 10;

SINGAPORE : The National Environment Agency (NEA) on Saturday said that clean-up efforts of the oil spill in East Coast Park and Changi Beach following a collision of two vessels on Tuesday should be complete by Sunday.

The situation in Chek Jawa at Pulau Ubin is also under control, but researchers said there could be long-term effects on the eco-system.

It was a quiet affair for volunteers and workers, all trying to nurse Chek Jawa back to health.

The oil spill had seeped into the island on Friday, and they have been working since then.

Dong Kum Sang, volunteer, National Parks Board, said: "This morning, we were here at 7am, right up to almost lunch time. We were at the mangrove site. It was not that bad, it seems to be improving."

Authorities said the eco-system was not severely damaged.

Andrew Tan, CEO, National Environment Agency, said: "As of today, most of it has been cleaned up.

"The National Parks Board, working together with groups such as the Tropical Marine Science Institute and the Raffles Museum of Biodiversity Research, have been working hard to make sure that there is minimal environmental impact itself.

"So I think, barring any unforeseen circumstances, I would say that the situation in Chek Jawa is under control."

Researchers, on the other hand, warn of long-term effects.

Peter Ng, director, Raffles Museum of Biodiversity Research, said: "We have not seen mass kills, but I am sure some are affected. (In the) longer term, the oil will affect the animals and plants in different ways.

"It may reduce the reproduction, it may reduce the growth rate, it might reduce their strength. And that has long-term implications."

The public can still visit Chek Jawa, but there will be no guided walks in the next two weeks, to allow the NEA to monitor the situation.

The slick has also spread to Malaysian waters, to the east of Pulau Tekong.

Malaysian authorities have been informed and Singapore's Maritime and Port Authority and NEA are offering assistance.

Back at Changi Beach, more areas have been hit by the spill. Car parks one to four were the latest zones affected.

But Mr Tan said that the clean-up operation is on track.

He said: "Barring any new oil patches that hit our coast, we should be cleaning up most of East Coast Park and Changi Beach by tomorrow."

Meanwhile, authorities said they will continue to monitor the situation closely. - CNA/ms

Cleanup of oil slick almost completed
Jamie Ee Wen Wei, Straits Times 30 May 10;
Absorbents used to soak up the oil that has reached the Chek Jawa wetlands are seen in the foreground as visitors walk along the coastal walkway at high tide. -- ST PHOTO: NEO XIAOBIN

The oil slick that had spread to Chek Jawa was largely cleaned up yesterday.

Since last Friday, National Environment Agency (NEA) and National Parks Board (NParks) officers and volunteers have worked to clean up the nature area, which is home to a diverse ecosystem.

No immediate signs of major damage to the ecosystem have been observed, said NParks director Wong Tuan Wah.

Over at Changi Beach, new areas were hit by the oil slick even as the cleanup of other affected areas was almost completed.

Light staining of parts of the beach between carparks 1 and 4 was observed, the NEA said in a press statement.

Workers were deployed immediately to deal with the problem. The affected parts of the beach have been closed and signs put up to warn the public not to venture into the water.

The pollution is the result of a collision between an oil tanker and a bulk carrier last Tuesday morning. Some 2,500 tonnes of oil leaked into the water, causing a 4 sq km slick.

In a separate press statement, the Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore (MPA) said an oil slick was observed yesterday morning in Malaysian waters off Tanjong Pengelih, east of Pulau Tekong.

The MPA and NEA have informed their Malaysian counterparts and offered assistance in line with the Standard Operating Procedure for Joint Oil Spill Combat in the straits of Malacca and Singapore.

The MPA said it is closely monitoring the waters around Pulau Tekong.

To date, the NEA and ship operator AET have deployed 405 workers to the affected beaches in East Coast Park, Changi Beach and Pulau Ubin.

About 40 tonnes of sand contaminated with oil have been shovelled up and disposed at the Semakau offshore landfill.

With the prevailing winds blowing from south/south-east to south/south-west and depending on the sea currents over the next few days, the NEA said oil patches may still end up on the beaches.

While the patches along the shore of East Coast Park have been largely contained, the beach remains closed to the public.

Yesterday, the area was quieter than usual and most beach-goers avoided going near the water.

Mr Krishnan Kuppuswamy, 56, a director of a trading company, was one of those who turned up for a picnic with his family.

'We weren't planning to swim. We just came to enjoy the sea breeze. You can't really smell anything today.'

The NEA said it did not detect any toxic chemicals in the air and only a faint smell from the oil patches remained yesterday.

At Chek Jawa, workers and NParks volunteers endured the scorching heat yesterday to clean up the shoreline hit by the oil slick last Friday.

NParks' Mr Wong said there has been an outpouring of support from people to join in the effort.

But given the fragility of the ecosystem at Chek Jawa, he said NParks preferred to work with volunteers familiar with the area or those with expertise.

The nature area is still open to visitors but all guided walks have been suspended for two weeks.

Scientists wait to assess impact on wildlife
Straits Times 30 May 10;

The oil slick that has hit the Chek Jawa wetlands has not resulted in any mass destruction of wildlife there.

However, signs of death may show up over the next few days.

That is the view of Professor Peter Ng, director of the Tropical Marine Science Institute at the National University of Singapore.

'In the short term, some animals will die. We have not seen mass kills but I'm sure some are affected,' he told reporters during a trip to the wetlands yesterday to observe the damage. The breathing of fishes, for example, will be affected if their gills are coated with oil.

Prof Ng and his team of researchers have been working closely with the National Parks Board to monitor the situation at the nature area.

Yesterday, fishes and crabs could still be spotted near the shoreline.

While the scale of the pollution was 'minor', he cautioned that any amount could upset the fragile ecosystem in Chek Jawa.

With most of the oil patches along the wetlands cleaned up yesterday evening, he said the next step will be to monitor the long- term effects of the pollution.

As this is the first major pollution in the area, it is unclear how the ecosystem there will react.

Oil pollution could reduce the reproduction rate of the wildlife and stunt its growth, he said, adding that the accident was a 'wake-up call as to what can go wrong'.

A post-mortem of the clean-up efforts should be done to help the relevant bodies prepare for a similar situation, or worse.

'The authorities have already done what there is to be done... At this stage, the system has to self-recover,' he said. 'If we don't let too much oil hit it, the chances of recovery are not too bad.'

Jamie Ee Wen Wei

Volunteers help clean up shoreline
Nature lovers brave the heat and smell to clear some of the oil sludge at Chek Jawa
Jamie Ee Wen Wei, Straits Times 30 May 10;

Nature lovers got their hands dirty yesterday as they did their bit to clean up the affected shoreline at Chek Jawa on Pulau Ubin.

Work began at 7.30am when the tide was low. Using shovels, the volunteers dug up the brown oil sludge that had coated the shoreline and transferred it into large plastic bags.

Some used oil-absorbent cloths provided by the National Parks Board (NParks) to clean rock surfaces and mangrove roots stained by the oil - all this while stepping gingerly on the mudflats, which have roots and organisms living underneath.

'It's quite tricky to work on the mudflats because you don't want to damage the plants and roots,' said volunteer Tan Hang Chong, who is in his 30s.

'There may also be dangerous animals like the stonefish.'

More than 12 experienced volunteers were mobilised by NParks last Friday when the oil slick spread to Chek Jawa, to help with the cleanup there.

At 4pm that day, they started their work, which lasted about three hours. They continued yesterday.

They complemented the efforts of 107 workers deployed to the nature area, which had about 150m of its shoreline showing patches of oil.

Retired civil servant Wong Kum Sang, 60, an NParks volunteer who gives guided tours at Chek Jawa, said: 'I was very worried. I thought of the biodiversity there, and this will definitely affect the plants and animals.'

Another volunteer, Ms Alyce Ang, a freelance nature guide, said: 'We knew the cleanup had to be done quickly. Once the oil seeps into the ground, the damage will be great.'

Indeed, time was not on the volunteers' side.

They were able to carry out their work only during low tide, which lasted about two to three hours.

Mr Tan said: 'Our priority was to remove the sludge rather than rescue the animals.'

The volunteers were given tools and boots by NParks.

Most of them were involved in an oil spill cleanup for the first time.

It certainly was a tough job.

'My clothes were stained by oil. I'll probably have to throw them away,' said Ms Ang, with a rueful smile.

The scorching heat and lingering smell from the oil also added to the difficulty of the task.

But the volunteers were relieved to see the pollution was not as bad as they had imagined.

Still, they were concerned about the long-term impact on the environment there.

Mr Tan said: 'It's unfortunate that Chek Jawa had suffered two environmental threats within such a short time.'

Three years ago, as a result of heavy rains, the area was hit by freshwater flooding which altered the salinity of the water and led to the deaths of many sea creatures there.

'It will take time to see how soon the ecosystems here will recover,' he said.

Oil slick hits Chek Jawa: Scientists wait to assess impact
Straits Times 29 May 10;

THE oil slick that has hit the Chek Jawa wetlands has not resulted in any mass destruction of wildlife there.

However, signs of death may show up over the next few days.

That is the view of Professor Peter Ng, director of the Tropical Marine Science Institute at the National University of Singapore.

'In the short term, some animals will die. We have not seen mass kills but I'm sure some are affected,' he told reporters during a trip to the wetlands yesterday to observe the damage. The breathing of fishes, for example, will be affected if their gills are coated with oil.

Prof Ng and his team of researchers have been working closely with the National Parks Board to monitor the situation at the nature area.

Yesterday, fishes and crabs could still be spotted near the shoreline.

Read the full story in The Sunday Times.

A 1km long boom has been placed offshore from east of Pulau Ubin as a measure to prevent oil leaked from the tanker accident from affecting Chek Jawa and Pulau Ubin coastal areas. -- ST PHOTO: SAMUEL HE

Oil spill at Chek Jawa wetlands on Pulau Ubin. -- PHOTO: NPARKS

Oil spill reaching Chek Jawa. -- PHOTO: NPARKS

Despite the slick left on the beach by the recent oil spill, a large number of amateur anglers could still be seen casting their lines at Changi on Friday. -- ST PHOTO: BRYAN VAN DER BEEK

Family Day Out event at East Coast Park moved to Palawan Beach
Jeremy Koh Channel NewsAsia 29 May 10;

SINGAPORE : At least one mega event in Singapore has been affected by the oil spill off the Republic's eastern coast.

The situation at East Coast beach prompted organisers of the Family Day Out @ South East event to move it to Palawan Beach in Sentosa instead.

The event is part of this year's National Family Celebrations.

Families made the most of it to spend quality time with their family members, and enjoy the waters off Sentosa.

Lim Soon Hock, co-chairperson, National Family Celebrations 2010, said: "This is the third year we are organising a Family Day Out, and the whole objective is to create the opportunities for shared experiences, and for families to spend time together and bond with one another." - CNA/ms

No comments:

Post a Comment