Malaysia: Tanjung Piai National Park Closed Due To Oil Spill

Bernama 27 Jun 12;

PONTIAN, June 27 (Bernama) -- The Tanjung Piai National Park here has been closed to tourists due to an oil slick measuring about 600 metre-long sighted on the beach yesterday afternoon.

Johor National Parks Corporation director Suhairi Hashim said the closure was to facilitate cleaning-up work which would take three days.

"We are awaiting the Beach Cleaning Committee's decision before launching the clean-up operation.

"The committee is made up of several agencies, including the Department of Environment (DOE), the Pontian Land Office, and the Pontian District Office," he told reporters here Wednesday.

Suhairi said the oil slick, which was believed to have occurred during fuel transfer from vessels off Tanjung Piai, was spotted by Tanjung Piai National Park personnel at about 2pm yesterday.


Oil spill forces park closure
Ahmad Fairuz Othman AND Sim Bak Heng New Straits Times 28 Jun 12;

ECOLOGICAL PROBLEM: Tanjung Piai National Park and Pulau Kukup affected

An oil slick in the swamp area at the Tanjung Piai National Park. Pic courtesy of Taman Negara Tanjung Piai

PONTIAN: The Tanjung Piai National Park here will be closed after an oil spill washed up onto a 600m coastal stretch located in the park and nearby Pulau Kukup.

The park, which has received about 30,000 tourists since January, will be closed to facilitate a three-day clean-up.

The oil spill was believed to have occurred when illegal vessel-to-vessel fuel transfers off the coast here took place since Tuesday.

The national park's staff were notified of the incident at 2pm on Tuesday. It was also reported to the Pontian District Office and the Marine Department.

"The oil spill could be seen along a 600m stretch along the main walkway heading towards the globe structure, which is the main landmark at the national park. The globe marks the southernmost tip of mainland Asia," said Johor National Parks Corporation director, Suhairi Hashim.

It also damaged the pedestrian walkway at the national park, causing birds and mangrove trees to be covered in oil sludge and affecting at least 10 species of marine life and insects in the park.

"It is feared the incident will endanger further the species of birds, shellfish and fish, as the oil has covered mangrove tree roots and can cause the plants to wither in two months."

The incident at the eco-tourism spot, listed as a Ramsar site, was the second incident since February this year. Ramsar sites are wetlands of international importance designated under the Ramsar Convention of 1971.

"Checks showed that the oil spill has also affected the Pulau Kukup National Park which is located not far from Tanjung Piai National Park."

Additional reporting by Jassmine Shadiqe

Lack of skills hampers oil sludge clean-up
New Straits Times 29 Jun 12;

PONTIAN: The lack of expertise and equipment is hampering the cleaning up of oil sludge at the Tanjung Piai National Park.

A Pulau Kukup National Park employee hard at work cleaning up an area spoilt by an oil spill. The park was closed after an oil spill washed up onto a 600m stretch in the park and nearby Pulau Kukup. Pic by Zulkarnain Ahmad Tajuddin

Johor National Parks Corporation director Suhairi Hashim said more than 30 workers from the national parks in Johor, including those from the Pulau Kukup National Park, had been roped in to help with the operation.

He said the cleaning was done manually with equipment like hoes, spades and absorbents provided by the state Department of Environment.

"They are digging up the oil sludge, packing them in plastic bags and wiping the mangrove tree roots with absorbent pads.

"The cleaning job is difficult because Tanjung Piai covers about 562ha and has over 1,000 mangrove trees.

"We expect the oil sludge will destroy more trees and kill more marine life.

"Last February, we had a similar clean-up which cost us RM50,000, yet more than 300 trees withered two months later.

"We expect to spend more than RM50,000 this time, too, but hope to rope in agencies, such as the Malaysian Nature Society, to help us with their expertise to minimise the impact of the pollution on our flora and fauna.

"As the cleaning exercise will stretch for five days, we welcome anyone with expertise and equipment to assist in our work so that it could be done faster and more effectively."

Those interested to assist in the cleaning can contact Tanjung Piai National Park at 07-6969712.