Cleanup operations have started in the north-eastern coast of Singapore after the oil spill in the Johor Strait that poses a threat to the biodiversity of the area. More than 200 personnel have been deployed for the cleanup operations.
The beaches at Changi, Punggol and Pasir Ris were all affected by the oil spill, which was caused by the collision of two vessels near Pasir Gudang Port. The offshore islands of Pulau Ubin and Coney Island were also affected.
According to a local daily, oil absorbents were seen to be brought onto a vessel while workers packed oil-stained sand into trash bags. Equipment to skim oil from the water surface and prevent it from spreading was also deployed at the affected areas.
Workers have put up signboards advising people to stay away from the contaminated waters and that the beach is closed. "Members of the public are advised to exercise caution when visiting these beaches and to avoid the affected stretches where cleaning operations are still ongoing," said the National Environment Agency.
This is the first major oil spill to affect Singapore since 2010, when 2,500 tonnes of crude oil leaked into the Singapore Strait south of the mainland, after a ship collision.
Stephen Beng, chairman of the Nature Society (Singapore)'s marine conservation group told a local daily that such incidents devastate the marine environment.
“Oil destroys the insulating ability of fur-bearing mammals like our otters, and the water repellency of birds... Spilt oil also affects the eyes, skin and lungs of sea turtles and dolphins, but they are more vulnerable to chemical exposure from what they eat in their contaminated habitat," he said.