Singapore, Malaysia conduct chemical spill exercise at Tuas

Wayne Chan Channel NewsAsia 28 Jul 11;

SINGAPORE: The National Environment Agency (NEA) and Johor's Department of Environment (DOE) conducted an emergency exercise at the Tuas Second Link on Thursday morning.

The exercise simulates the spillage of hazardous chemicals on both land and sea at the crossing. It was held on the Malaysian side for the first time, 500 metres away from the Singapore Tuas Checkpoint, and included some new elements.

Each year, about 110,000 tonnes of hazardous chemicals are transported between Malaysia and Singapore.

While there have been no accidents involving the transportation of hazardous chemicals at the crossing, NEA said the exercise ensures that the relevant emergency response agencies are able to react quickly to minimise the consequences of such accidents.

NEA chief executive officer Andrew Tan said, "The bilateral exercise underscores the strong cooperation between both countries in ensuring that agencies are ready to respond to any chemical spill accident on the Second Link in a coordinated and effective manner."

The 27 agencies (20 from Malaysia and 7 from Singapore) and 540 personnel (340 from Malaysia and 200 from Singapore), led by the NEA and DOE finished the task of clearing the simulated chemical spill half-an-hour ahead of time on Thursday morning.

Mr Tan said: "What you have seen this year is a more complex exercise involving more casualties, involving three different types of chemicals. And also involving the difficult task of trying to evacuate the casualties as well as contain the chemical spill which is combustible."

Director-General of the Department of Environment of Malaysia, Dato Hajah Rosnani Binti Ibarahim, said: "I see an improvement in terms of coordination from both sides. Singapore's SCDF and Malaysia's BOMBA are working very closely. The environment agencies are working very closely.

"But what is important is that we have to continue to work closely in terms of communication. Communication is very important in all incidences because that will dictate how fast we can react."

This is the eighth exercise conducted to test the operational effectiveness of the Emergency Response Plan (ERP) jointly developed by NEA and DOE as part of the bilateral cooperation programme under the Malaysia-Singapore Joint Committee on the Environment.

- CNA/cc/ac

500 tackle 'chemical accident'
The New Straits Times 29 Jul 11;

JOHOR BARU: It was only a simulation exercise of a "chemical accident" at the Second Link here, but the slow moving traffic at times got some motorists worried that it was for real.

The joint emergency response exercise by Singapore and Malaysian government agencies began about 10am with the "accident" occurring at a spot some 500m from the island republic's Tuas checkpoint.

It resulted in that part of the road leading to the checkpoint being closed and traffic diverted to one of the two lanes on the opposite side of the road heading to Malaysia.

The exercise, called the 8th Malaysia-Singapore joint exercise on emergency response plan for chemical spills on the Second Link, ended at 11.15am with 500 personnel from both countries participating.

Department of Environment director-general Datuk Rosnani Ibarahim said that although no major accidents had ever occurred at the Second Link, there was still a need to prepare.

Singapore's National Environment Agency chief executive officer Andrew Tan said there were always lessons to be learnt from such exercises as it allowed those involved to see how each agency responded to emergencies.

Yesterday's exercise saw a tanker carrying 20 tonnes of phenol bound for Singapore being involved in an "accident" with a motorcyclist and pillion rider.

It then "slammed" into a car and a lorry transporting sulphuric acid and nitric acid.