Malaysia: Oil spill threatens 5km coastline in Penang

R. SEKARAN The Star 29 May 16;

GEORGE TOWN: An oil spill has polluted a 5km coastline on the island stretching from Swettenham Pier to Gurney Drive.

Sea currents pushed the black oil – estima­ted to be a few thousand litres – to the shoreline, creating a slimy strip up to 2m wide in some stretches.

Penang Port chief operating officer Sasedha­ran Vasudevan said the spill was first detected at the Prai Bulk Terminal on the mainland on Friday night.

Clean up operations by the port, Department of Environment (DOE) and private oil companies began immediately, he said, but not before sea currents spread the oil to the island.

Sasedharan said the private oil companies deployed their tugboats and manpower to manually scoop the scum up.

DOE state director Nor Juliana Jaafar said the department had sent personnel to inspect ships along the channel in an attempt to find the culprit.

It has also sent the oil for analysis with the results expected to be known tomorrow.

“It’s not a continuous line but there are patches of the oil seen all along the affected coastline. We have asked the Marine Depart­ment to help determine the extent of the damage,” she said, adding that DOE would also inspect the spill from the air.

State Environment Committee chairman Phee Boon Poh said initial tests showed that it was a mix of fuel and engine oil.

“We have zeroed down to one ship that could have caused this during the investigation. We will check further and take action soon,” he said.

Meanwhile, photographs of the incident are spreading on Facebook, showing fishermen’s nets covered in the oil.

The last time an oil spill occurred here was in May 2012 when hotel guests in Batu Fer­ringhi found strips of sand polluted with black oil on the beach.

Oil spill in waters off Penang mopped up
R. SEKARAN The Star 30 May 16;

GEORGE TOWN: An oil spill that polluted a 5km coastline stretching from Swettenham Pier to Gurney Drive has been cleaned up.

Penang Port Sdn Bhd (PPSB) chief operating officer V. Sasedharan said the clean-up operation that involved the PPSB, the Marine Department, the Department of Environment (DOE) and private oil companies was completed at 2.55pm yesterday.

Earlier, Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng said it was “totally unacceptable” that the Federal Government kept Penang in the dark about the spill.

Describing it as an “environmental crisis,” Lim said the state government was only informed after 24 hours.

“The spill involved a 70km sq area. I have been trying to get in touch with Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department (Datuk Seri Shahidan Kassim) since Saturday for more information but could not reach him,” Lim said after visiting the Sri Kahlee Amman temple in Air Itam yesterday.

“We have identified the vessel responsible for the spill,” added Lim.

Checks showed that the vessel was an oil tanker built in 2011 and registered in Port Klang.

“While we understand that it’s a Federal Government operation, we should have been informed early,” Lim said.

DOE officer Nor Juliana Jaafar denied that the source of the spill had been identified as investigations were still on-going.

“I am not aware of the information and our reports on the incident are directly handed over to the director-general. However, we can confirm that it was fuel oil,” she said.

The oil spill was detected near the Prai Bulk Terminal on Friday night.

The oil slick spread to The Esplanade and Gurney Drive where pictures showed strips of black oil at the shorelines.

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