'Good progress' in cleaning up Changi oil spill: MPA

Channel NewsAsia 6 Jan 17;

SINGAPORE: “Good progress” has been made in containing and cleaning up the oil spill in Singapore’s waters following the collision of two container vessels, said the Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore (MPA) on Friday (Jan 6).

The Tuesday night collision off Johor's Pasir Gudang port resulted in about 300 tonnes of oil being spilled.

At least three fish farms in the East Johor Straits were affected, with one farmer telling Channel NewsAsia on Thursday that he had already lost about 1,000 fish and that the damage could run up to S$700,000. Changi Beach was also partially closed for clean-up operations.

On Friday, MPA said that clean-up work is still going on at Changi Point Ferry Terminal, fish farms at Nenas Channel, and at Noordin Beach on the northern coast of Pulau Ubin.

Oil spill response vessels as well as containment booms and spill recovery equipment such as harbour busters, skimmers and absorbent booms and pads have also been deployed, said MPA.

It added that no new patches of oil have been spotted along the East Johor Straits.

Port operations remain unaffected, said MPA, adding that it and other Government agencies are monitoring the situation closely and will "carry out necessary clean-up efforts".

MPA said that members of the public who spot any oil patches in Singapore's waters or coastline can contact its 24-hour marine safety control centre at 63252488 or 63252489.

Separately, the National Parks Board (NParks) said the tides on Friday carried some oil to beaches in Pulau Ubin including Chek Jawa Wetlands. It said that over the weekend, it will be working with conservation volunteers to clean up Pulau Ubin's beaches. "These NParks volunteers will help clear contaminated sand and remove oil sludge in the affected areas. We will review requests from the public to support the clean-up operation on a case-by-case basis," said a spokesperson. NParks also said it is monitoring the impact of the oil spill on marine life.

- CNA/xk


Oil spill off Johor: Affected fish farms plan to seek compensation
Lianne Chia Channel NewsAsia 6 Jan 17;

SINGAPORE: One fish farm lost almost its entire Chinese New Year harvest, after a vessel collision off Johor on Tuesday (Jan 3) resulted in about 300 tonnes of oil spilling into the sea.

Now, Gills N’ Claws, which runs a fish farm north of Pulau Ubin, said it is already in talks with its lawyers and will consider taking legal action against the shipping companies in question.

“Our lawyers told us we can sue the ship owners for compensation,” said Gills N’ Claws’ CEO Steven Suresh. “But first we will ask them amicably how they plan to compensate us, and then see what they say.

“If they don’t want to compensate us, then we will have to take legal action.”

The company estimates its losses could run to as high as S$700,000. It saw the deaths of about 70 per cent of the fish meant to be sold in time for Chinese New Year, but the larger proportion of its losses come from having to change all the infrastructure that was ruined by the oil.

“Just redoing the infrastructure alone is going to cost us a bomb,” said Mr Suresh. “It’s easier for me to tear the whole thing down and build a new system than to clean up the oil.”

SHIP OWNERS LIABLE FOR COMPENSATION: LAWYERS

But how likely is it that they will be successful in recouping their losses? Lawyers Channel NewsAsia spoke to said that under Singapore law, these fish farms are eligible for compensation from the ship owners responsible for the spill.

“If the collision was caused by the fault or negligence of any of the ships involved, the fish farms would likely have a claim against the party at fault,” said K Murali Pany, managing partner of Joseph Tan Jude Benny LLP. “If the party does not offer payment, the fish farms will have to bring a claim in court, and a ship arrest to obtain security for their claims may also be possible.”

The Government can also take steps to penalise shipping companies for causing oil spills that affect Singapore, according to S Suressh, partner at Harry Elias Partnership and head of the Aviation and Shipping Practice Group. He said the master, agent and owner of the ship can be fined up to a maximum of S$1 million under the Prevention of Pollution of the Sea Act.

In a 1993 case involving accidental pollution, the fine imposed was about S$10,000. But penalties are much more severe in cases of deliberate pollution. “In 1996, a tanker dumped oil into the sea. The master was sentenced to three months' imprisonment and fined S$400,000. The ship’s owner and its agent were also fined S$400,000 each.”

He added that the fish farms looking to make a claim will have to take the matter up with the representatives of the owner of the vessel. There is also no fixed time frame for it to be resolved, as each case is different. “If matters cannot be resolved, then claimants can sue the owners, but this is rarely necessary as most claims of this nature are settled,” he said. “The ship probably has insurance coverage for this.”

FISH FARMS TAKING A WAIT-AND-SEE APPROACH

In the meantime, affected fish farms are still assessing their damage and taking a wait-and-see approach. President of the Fish Farmers’ Association Timothy Ng said they are still exploring their options and are currently having preliminary discussions. “But it is likely that we will need to make some claims,” he said.

It is also not easy to gauge the actual impact of the oil spill on his association’s members, he added. “There are a few farmers directly impacted, but for others … I heard from a farmer closer to the Changi side that they could see (the) oil coming.”

“So we will only know in a few weeks, when everything is settled, what the impact is on their farms.”

As of Friday (Jan 6), the Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority (AVA) has issued orders for 12 farms to suspend fish sales until food safety evaluations are complete.

Fish available in the market is safe for consumption, AVA added.

AVA has also been visiting coastal fish farms to ascertain and mitigate the situation, as well as assist in the clean-up. Oil-absorbent pads and canvas have been issued to 25 farmers near the site of the oil spill to help protect their fish stock.

It added that while some farms said that about 250kg of fish have died, most of the farms in the same area did not report any, and that there is “minimal impact to supply”.

Additional reporting by Vanessa Lim.

- CNA/dt


Authorities embark on clean-up along Singapore coastlines after oil spill
ALFRED CHUA Today Online 6 Jan 17;

SINGAPORE — A day after two ships collided in Johor waters, oil patches were found along coastlines in the north-eastern part of Singapore, while an 800m stretch of Changi Beach was closed on Thursday (Jan 5) to clean up the oil spill.

A second fish farm in the affected area also reported fish deaths from the spill, although the authorities said most farms were spared and impact on supply was “minimal”. Nonetheless, some farms have been told to suspend sales, until food safety tests are completed.

Apart from Changi Beach, oil patches were also found along the shorelines of Noordin beach at Pulau Ubin, and the beaches at Punggol and Pasir Ris, said the National Environmental Agency (NEA). They were also found off the Cafhi jetty, also at Changi Beach and along the shorelines of Changi Point Ferry Terminal, as well as Changi Sailing Club, said the Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore (MPA) on Thursday evening.

About 300 tonnes of oil gushed into the waters off Singapore on Tuesday night after two ships collided off Pasir Gudang Port in Johor.

When TODAY visited Changi Beach on Thursday afternoon, cleaners were seen clearing up oil-coated sand near Changi jetty, and placing oil-absorbent pads into the water. They had been working there since morning.

There was a distinct stench of oil in the air and a handful of beachgoers could be seen in the area.

Not far from the jetty, bag after bag of sand coated with oil was heaped along the seashore.

The NEA has advised the public to exercise caution when visiting the affected beaches and to avoid the stretches where cleaning work is being carried out.

Clean-up work aside, the authorities on Thursday also stepped up their efforts to contain the oil spill. The MPA increased the number of vessels deployed to clear up the oil patches to 17, from nine the previous day. Its spokesperson said 222 personnel were involved in the clean-up efforts.

The National Parks Board (NParks), which deployed oil-absorbent booms along Pulau Ubin’s north-eastern coast, Pasir Ris Park and Coney Island Park on Wednesday to protect mudflats and mangrove areas, said “the booms have kept the oil out of the biodiversity sensitive sites”.

“We will continue to monitor the impact of the oil spill on marine life and share more details when this is ready,” it added.

Meanwhile, fish farmers were on Thursday counting the cost of the damage arising from the oil spill, while the Agri-food and Veterinary Authority (AVA) said more farms in the East Johor Strait have found oil on their nets and premises, due to tide movement.

Two farms have reported fish deaths, amounting to 100 to 250kg across both farms. The AVA said it has issued notices to suspend sales to three farms, and more will be issued if more farms become affected.

When TODAY visited Mr Timothy Ng from 2 Jays Pte Ltd at his farm off the north-western coast of Pulau Ubin, cleaning personnel could be seen working to remove swathes of black oil.

This was “the largest such incident” to hit his 12-year-old farm, which is among those hit with a suspension. A visibly-disappointed Mr Ng said he could not do much with his fish stock now, except to put aerators into the fish cages to pump in fresh air.

“We cannot feed any fish now, since the food will be contaminated, so for now, we will just have to wait and see,” said Mr Ng, adding that “no more than 10kg” of fish had already died due to the oil spill.

His farm has around 10 tonnes of fish and seafood, and four employees.

Mr Tan Choon Teck, from FC57E Fish Farm, said his entire 3ha farm was covered with oil and cleaning-up works were in progress.

He said in Mandarin: “I’m worried if my fish would die from a lack of fresh air (due to the thick layer of oil). I’m worried also because we cannot feed them,” he said, adding that the AVA had taken a few of his fish for tests.


12 farms ordered to stop fish sales in aftermath of oil spill
TOH EE MING Today Online 7 Jan 17;

SINGAPORE — Nine more farms have been told to stop selling fish as a result of the oil spill, although the authorities said on Friday (Jan 6) that no new patches of oil had been spotted and the cleanup progress was going well.

The Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority of Singapore (AVA) said that the suspension would be in place “until food safety evaluations are complete”. This brings the total number of farms told to stop sales to 12, on top of the three ordered to do so on Thursday.

Some 300 tonnes of oil gushed into the waters off Singapore on Tuesday night, after two ships collided off Pasir Gudang Port in Johor.

The AVA has been visiting coastal fish farms in the East Johor Straits to ascertain and mitigate the situation, and to assist in the cleanup.

Oil-absorbent pads and canvas were given to 25 farmers near the oil spill site to help protect their fish stock, and the authority also collected fish samples for food-safety tests.

Its spokesperson said: “While some farms have reported some fish mortalities of about 250kg, most of the farms in the same area did not report any ... There is minimal impact to supply.”

Separately, the Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore (MPA) stressed that “good progress” has been made in containing and cleaning up the oil spillage in Singapore’s waters following the collision of container vessels Wan Hai 301 and Gibraltar-registered container vessel APL Denver. No new patches of oil have been spotted along East Johor Straits, and port operations remain unaffected, MPA said.

Cleanup operations are still taking place at various places such as the Changi Point Ferry Terminal, fish farms at Nenas Channel and Noordin beach situated on the northern coastline of Pulau Ubin.

The MPA also deployed oil-spill response vessels, containment booms and spill recovery equipment such as harbour busters, skimmers and absorbent booms and pads.

“MPA and the other government agencies are monitoring the situation closely and will carry out necessary cleanup efforts,” it said.

An 800m stretch of Changi Beach has been closed until further notice due to the oil spill, the National Environment Agency said on Thursday.

The closure is to help facilitate the clean-up of the affected area, the NEA said, and advised the public to avoid the area.

Members of the public who spot any oil patches in Singapore’s waters or coastline may call the MPA’s 24-hour Marine Safety Control Centre at 6325 2488/9.



Fish farm might close due to oil spill
Fish farms in Pulau Ubin in costly ordeal after oil spill from vessels collision reaches them
Kimberly Lim The New Paper 7 Jan 17;

It has been an anxious three days for Mr Steven Suresh, who has been shuttling between his office in mainland Singapore and his fish farm located in north Pulau Ubin.

Gills N Claws, an aquaculture company, has a total of $500,000 worth of seafood at stake because of the oil spill in Johor, said the 46-year-old chief executive officer.

He is waiting for the Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority of Singapore (AVA) to release the results of food safety tests conducted on the fish samples.

The Tuesday night collision between two container vessels saw 300 tonnes of oil spillage.

By the following night, patches of oil were seen along the beaches of Singapore's north-eastern coast.

Mr Steven said: "This whole experience has been horrifying and shocking. I really do not know what to do.

The future for the company remains uncertain for now, he added.

"We have no insurance for the farm because it was not made available to us. We were affected by the red tide during the previous two years and we were just recovering from that when the oil spill happened," he said.

Mr Steven expects the results to be out by tomorrow. But sales to restaurants, fishmongers and wholesalers have been brought to a standstill.

He said: "We have 40 tonnes of fish stocked up for the Chinese New Year, with each tonne costing up to $7,000. From my experience, my fish are definitely gone already. We cannot pull out the net or feed the fish.

"We also have four tonnes of lobsters, costing $55,000 per tonne. As far as I know, the lobsters are gone too - nobody will want to buy lobsters with oil coated on them."

Mr Steven added: "The clean-up for the farm will take at least four months to complete and our business will have to stop because of it."

He said the farm has to undergo structural changes on top of purchasing new nets and high-density floating polyethylene cubes.

There is a high chance the company will close down because of the time required to clean up, he said.

Mr Tan Choon Teck, owner of FC57E Fish Farm, also sent fish samples to AVA for testing.

The 54-year-old said in Mandarin: "AVA came to collect the fish sample on Wednesday but has not notified us on when the results will be released.

"I have not estimated the losses made but some of my small fishes have died."

He added: "I have been feeling very anxious because I am afraid that more fish will die. I have also been very busy with cleaning the oil."

Some fish farms have managed to escape the ordeal.

Among them is The Fish Farmer, located in the south of Pulau Ubin.

Mr Malcolm Ong, 53, the chief executive officer, said: "We were unaffected by the oil spill but it came close to the farm and skirted right past us.

'SMALL COMMUNITY'

"I feel very lucky and fortunate, but also a bit pained for our fellow farmers because we are a small community. It is a big blow for them and we hope that they can recover from this."

AVA has been visiting coastal fish farms in the East Johor Strait to assess the situation and assist in the clean-up, such as issuing oil absorbent pads and canvas to 25 farmers closest to the oil spill.

Some farms have reported loss of 250kg of fish.

AVA said: "To ensure food safety, AVA has collected fish samples for food safety tests and will continue to do so. We have also issued suspension of sales to 12 farms as (of yesterday).

"The suspension will be in place until food safety evaluations are complete. Fish available in the market is safe for consumption."

Dr Leong Hon Keong, group director of AVA's technology and industry development group, said: "As compared to the day before, we have observed more farms with tainted nets and structures in the East Johor Strait due to the tidal movement.

"AVA will continue to monitor the situation and assist the fish farmers, including assisting in cleanup efforts."

The Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore (MPA) said: "Clean-up operations are still on going at Changi Point Ferry Terminal, fish farms at Nenas Channel, and at Noordin beach, northern coastline of Pulau Ubin. Oil spill response vessels as well as containment booms and spill recovery equipment, such as harbour busters, skimmers and absorbent booms and pads, have also been deployed."


Oil-slicked sand to be incinerated
Audrey Tan, The Straits Times AsiaOne 7 Jan 17;

A stretch of Changi Beach remains closed to beachgoers in the aftermath of an oil spill that has stained Singapore's shores.

Work is under way on about 800m of the beach to detoxify the oil-streaked sands there.

The sand, contaminated with oil spilt after two vessels collided in Johor waters on Tuesday, will be incinerated to destroy the oil and other hazardous material in it.

This is a common way of clearing oil spills on land.

About two tonnes of the Changi sand were sent for incineration at NSL OilChem Waste Management's plant in Boon Lay yesterday.

An NSL spokesman told The Straits Times: "The resulting ash and sand will be further tested to meet (National Environment Agency) compliance requirements before disposing it at the landfill on Pulau Semakau."

The company has been treating, recycling and disposing of oily waste in Singapore since 1997, and was engaged by a National Environment Agency (NEA) sub-contractor to deal with the oil-contaminated soil at Changi Beach, one of the areas affected.

Other beaches at Punggol and Pasir Ris on the mainland were also affected. Pulau Ubin and Coney Island - two of Singapore's offshore islands - were hit by the spill as well.

Of these beaches, Changi seemed to be worst hit. Cleanup operations at Coney Island, Pasir Ris and Punggol beaches have been completed.

Cleaning was still under way at Pulau Ubin's Noordin Beach yesterday, but this area has been closed to the public since 2013 for shore restoration works.

When The Straits Times visited the beach next to the Changi Village Hawker Centre yesterday, the red-and-white tape to block off access was still up, with signs placed every 10m or so warning people to stay out of the water.

NEA said on Thursday that the affected stretch will be temporarily closed to beachgoers "until further notice" to facilitate the cleanup.

One beachgoer, Mr Lawrence Fong, 57, said the smell of fuel was distracting, although the closure did not affect him as he does not swim there.

"But I suppose it would be a major disruption for people who spend time here with their families," said Mr Fong, a project manager.

"It gets very crowded here on the weekends with people relaxing and enjoying the scenery, fishing."

Mr Adrian Koh, who operates the Bistro@Changi cafe along the affected stretch, estimates that the spill caused a 30 per cent drop in customers.

"We have some people who came in, but left as the smell of (fuel) was very strong," he said.

Fish farms along the affected East Johor Strait are also adopting a wait-and-see approach to assess damage.

Mr Timothy Ng, operations manager of 2 Jays, one of the affected farms, said oil spills do not directly impact the fish.

Read also: Owners of ships to foot $1.6 million oil cleanup bill

But he estimated that he has lost 20kg of stock - or about 30 fish - so far.

His farm is one of 12 that the Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority (AVA) has asked to stop sales while tests are ongoing.

The suspension will be in place until food safety evaluations are complete, said AVA, and fish on the market is safe for consumption.

The Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore, which is coordinating cleanup efforts, said it could not yet estimate the cleanup costs.

However, good progress has been made in containing and cleaning up the spillage and no new patches of oil have been spotted along the East Johor Strait, it said.


Major clean-up after oil spill spreads to Singapore beaches
Part of Changi Beach closed after Singapore is hit by worst oil spill since 2010
Kimberly Lim The New Paper 6 Jan 17;

The oil spill in the Johor Strait on Tuesday night has sparked a massive clean-up after the tar-like slick reached the north-eastern coast of Singapore.

A collision between two container vessels near Pasir Gudang Port in Johor had damaged one of their bunker tanks and caused the spillage of 300 tonnes of oil.

The Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore said in a statement yesterday that 17 vessels and 222 personnel had been deployed for the clean-up.

Patches of oil could be seen off Cafhi Jetty and the shorelines of Pasir Ris Beach, Punggol Beach and Changi Beach, which seemed to be the worst hit.

The offshore islands of Pulau Ubin and Coney Island were also affected.

Cleaning along the western coastlines of Pulau Ubin and Nenas Channel is in progress.

Yesterday morning, National Environment Agency (NEA) contractors were seen bringing up oil absorbents stained with oil onto a vessel, while workers packed oil-stained sand into trash bags, The Straits Times reported online.

Equipment to skim oil from the water surface and prevent it from spreading was also deployed at the affected areas.

Workers were seen putting up sign boards advising people to stay away from the contaminated waters and that the beach was closed.

NEA said that an affected 800m stretch of Changi Beach had been closed to beachgoers until further notice.

A 100m stretch at Noordin Beach at Pulau Ubin is also being cleaned. Cleaning at Punggol Beach and Pasir Ris Beach was completed yesterday afternoon.

"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 NEA.

I had never seen a spill this bad. There was a strong chemical stench that made me feel dizzy.
Mr Colin Koh
Among those affected was Mr Colin Koh, 53, director at Asian Detours, an outdoor adventure company that is usually bustling with kayakers on weekends.

He told The New Paper: "The weekend is usually our peak period and we can have up to six groups, totalling 20 to 40 people. But we have postponed all the tours for the remainder of this week."

After Mr Koh checked the spill yesterday to find out the extent of the damage, he described it as one of the worst spills he had seen in his 31 years.

"I had never seen a spill this bad. There was a strong chemical stench that made me feel dizzy," he said.

Worried about how long the clean-up would take, Mr Koh said that even a 10 per cent drop in business would be a huge blow because Asian Detours is not a big company.

"I usually lead kayaking expeditions three times a week. It is my passion, lifeblood and my rice bowl," he said.

"It is the same for my employees and all the expedition leaders out there."

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.


乌敏岛一半红树林受油渍污染 可能枯萎
06/01/2017 20:2706/01/2017 23:11 李赠谊报道

乌敏岛一半红树林受油渍污染 可能枯萎
8
柔佛海峡货船相撞引发漏油事件,马来西亚称300多个渔民受影响,要求涉案公司赔偿。据了解, 清理费用高达500万令吉。

我国海事港务管理局则表示,清理工作进展良好,柔佛海峡东部没有新的油污。

不过记者李赠谊也了解到,因为油污污染,乌敏岛至少一半的红树林可能死亡。

本台记者上午从樟宜海滩乘船到乌敏岛时,发现工作人员正在洗刷码头岸壁,清除油渍。

除了樟宜海岸,油污也随风向和浪潮,漂到乌敏岛红树林密集地带。本地一个自愿保育团队自发检查红树林时,发现乌敏岛至少一半的红树林遭油渍污染。

红树林保育志愿者渔农林腓立说:“新加坡仅有的红树林大多数都是在乌敏岛这一带,如果这个油污污染了它的根部,它就会死掉。如果死掉的话,就会影响到整个海洋生态。”

红树林保育志愿者渔农林腓立说:“保育团队目前完成了一半的检查工作。从昨天早上到今天,我们陆续地一直在做不同地方的检查,看它的影响有多大。然后我们会将这些报告,跟国家公园局商讨。”

生物学专家则表示,每次发生漏油事故,动物和植物数量就会减少,这将冲击整个生态体系。

新加坡国立大学生物科学系资深讲师西瓦索迪说:“ 有点像把整个生态体系回复到最早期的情况,导致它没有机会成熟。长期影响就是,我们没有办法看到红树林蓬勃发展,因为体系一直重设。”

国家公园局表示,已在乌敏岛东北方沿海一带铺设吸油棉,并会继续监控漏油事故对海洋生物的影响。

- CH8/GW

【柔佛海峡货船相撞漏油事件】乌敏岛红树林出现油污 半数树木可能枯萎
06/01/2017 11:2207/01/2017 01:08 李赠谊报道

受柔佛海峡货船相撞所引发的漏油事件影响,乌敏岛的红树林开始出现油污。有自愿保育团队自发检查红树林,发现至少一半的树木树根遭油渍污染,树木可能枯萎。

因风向和浪潮,黑油漂浮到乌敏岛红树林密集的地方,红树林从星期三下午开始出现油渍污染。至少一半的红树林树根遭油渍污染,树木无法吸取养分,有可能会枯萎。

参与红树林保育计划的渔农Phillip Lim表示,自愿保育团队昨天开始检查乌敏岛红树林受影响的程度,目前只完成一半的检查工作。虽然无法自行清理黑油,但完成检查工作后,自愿保育团队会与国家公园局合作,研究未来该如何应对类似事件,避免红树林受污染。


UPDATE 4: Collision of Container Vessels WAN HAI 301 and APL DENVER
MPA media release 6 Jun 17;

UPDATE 4: Collision of Container Vessels WAN HAI 301 and APL DENVER

The Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore (MPA) continues to coordinate the clean-up efforts of the oil spillage in Singapore’s waters following the collision of container vessels WAN HAI 301 and APL DENVER

Good progress has been made in containing and cleaning up the oil spillage. No new patches of oil have been spotted along East Johor Straits.

Clean-up operations are still on going at Changi Point Ferry Terminal, fish farms at Nenas Channel, and at Noordin beach, northern coastline of Pulau Ubin. Oil spill response vessels as well as containment booms and spill recovery equipment such as harbour busters, skimmers and absorbent booms and pads have also been deployed.

MPA and the other government agencies are monitoring the situation closely and will carry out necessary clean-up efforts.
Port operations remain unaffected.

Members of the public who spot any oil patches in our waters or coastline can contact MPA’s 24-hour Marine Safety Control Centre at 6325-2488/9.

For media queries, please email Media_Enquiries@mpa.gov.sg or call 83662293.

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