Friday, May 8, 2009

Oil spill off Sentosa?

Kok Sheng just alerted me that an oil spill has occurred off Sentosa.

Why isn't this in the news? Is it so minor that there is no mention of this incident even on the Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore (MPA) and National Environment Agency (NEA) websites?

Kok Sheng first pointed out this link on SustainableShipping.com that dates to 4th May 2009, entitled "Bunker spill off Singapore cleared". However, as you've probably realised by now, the news is accessible only to subscribers.

After a bit of Googling, I found another link that dates to 4th May, this time on Bunkerworld.com. Entitled "Bunker barge 'not at fault'", once again, I was frustrated to see that access was restricted to subscribers.

It's certainly very distressing when such important news is not freely available. I'm no conspiracy theorist, but why are the mass media and relevant government agencies silent about this? Surely we ought to know the facts about what happened?

I finally found a link that allowed me to find out more about this incident, on Portworld.com. I am eternally grateful to Google.
Bunker spill off Singapore cleared

A minor bunker spill off Singapore has been successfully cleared over the weekend, the port authority said Monday.

Singapore-registered bunker barge Global Duri was supplying bunkers to a Panama-registered vessel when 300 litres of bunker fuel was spilled on Friday.

The spill occurred at the Western Working Anchorage where the reefer cargo ship MV Meita Maru was anchored, some 800 metres from Sentosa, an island in the southern part of Singapore.

According to Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore (MPA), clean-up operations were successfully completed on Saturday.

"There are no more signs of spilled oil at the anchorage and fairway," an MPA spokesperson told Bunkerworld Monday.

MPA had dispatched five patrol and emergency response craft to the affected area, with the first craft arriving within 15 minutes after the incident were reported. Three contractor craft were also deployed.

Singapore's National Environmental Agency (NEA) and Sentosa Development Corporation (SDC) have also confirmed that the rockbunds off Labrador Park and Sentosa that were affected by some light patches of oil have been cleaned.

Sentosa's beaches, which are popular with locals and tourists, were not affected, the SDC said.

Siti Adawiah, 4th May 2009 03:28 GMT

By the way, anyone else noticed that the websites for SustainableShipping.com, Bunkerworld.com and Portworld.com all appear quite similar to one another? Are they run by the same group of people, or did the owners of these sites engage the services of the same web designers?

I did a search on Google, and I've found out the location of the Western Working Anchorage:

Western Working Anchorage

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I suppose it might be somewhere in this photo taken from Siloso Beach.

I'm not surprised that any oil that was spilled in that area would drift towards Labrador Park and Sentosa.

There is some cause for concern about the impact on the shores; while the report states that the oil has been cleaned up, I'm worried that the marine life may have been affected.


Labrador contains our last mainland reef, as well as a natural rocky shore and seagrass meadows.


There's also the beautiful Tanjung Rimau on Sentosa. People never fail to be amazed at the wonderful variety of marine life that can be found here on Sentosa.

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Not to mention the man-made lagoons along Siloso Beach, which are actually full of surprises.

This is just the most recent incident involving maritime traffic in Singapore; given that our waters are so heavily utilised, it's only a matter of time before someone goofs up, resulting in collisions or spillage.

The last oil spill occurred last year, in early April 2008. An oil slick of unknown origin appeared along the beach at East Coast Park. While I don't think we ever determined where the oil slick came from, it only goes to illustrate the potential for ecological disaster occurring due to the large number of ships and boats plying our waters. So far, we have been spared from catastrophes like the Exxon Valdex oil spill that struck Alaska in 1989, or the much more recent oil spill that took place in Queensland in March this year.

What still bugs me is the lack of any news reports from the local media and government agencies. Don't we have the right to know about incidents like this?

I wasn't planning to visit Sentosa these few days, but I think I'll pay a visit to Siloso Beach one weekend morning, to see if the marine life has been affected in any way by this spill.

UPDATE: Joseph Lai was on Sentosa on 4th May, and he has reported what he saw that day. It doesn't look as bad as I feared, but I'm not heaving a sigh of relief just yet.

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