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Chee Hong Tat: MPA’s fast response mitigates environmental impact of oil spill

Despite questions looming over the safety protocols at Pasir Panjang Terminal related to the oil spill, Transport Minister Chee Hong Tat defended that Singapore’s port authorities’ swift response had mitigated the environmental impact.



SINGAPORE: On 14 June, a collision between a dredger and a bunker vessel at Pasir Panjang Terminal resulted in oil washing up along several beaches in Singapore, including Sentosa Island, East Coast Park, and even Changi after a few days had passed.

Singapore has intensified clean-up operations, deploying additional resources to address the expanding affected areas.

Concerns are mounting over the environmental impact of the oil spill. The Singaporean community is also questioning the safety protocols at the terminal related to the spill, with hopes that the responsible marine company will face substantial penalties for breaching regulations.

At 2:18 pm on 14 June, the Netherlands-flagged dredging vessel Vox Maxima experienced a sudden loss of engine and steering controls, colliding with the stationary Singapore-flagged bunker vessel Marine Honour and rupturing one of its oil tanks.

In a Facebook post, Transport Minister Chee Hong Tat outlined a timeline of the authorities’ response, noting that the Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore (MPA) was alerted to the incident at 2:22 pm.

Mr Chee said by 2:33 pm, MPA had responded to ensure no further leaks from the bunker vessel, which still had 400 tonnes of oil remaining in its tank, while the other half had leaked instantly into the sea.

MPA sprayed dispersants to treat the spilt oil, which Mr Chee said was crucial to prevent it from hardening and to make subsequent cleanup operations at sea and on the land easier.

Oil booms were deployed around the damaged vessel to contain the spill, although he acknowledged that some oil could still spread due to tidal currents and waves.

Mr Chee mentioned that it would take time for MPA to progressively clean up the spill and complete the full investigation.

“We seek the understanding of members of the public and businesses (that) are affected by this incident,” he said.

“We will do our best to complete the cleanup as soon as possible.”

Mr Chee said: “MPA will continue to work with the relevant government agencies, industry partners, volunteers, and the maritime and port authorities of neighbouring countries to monitor the situation closely and take the necessary actions.”

He addressed public concerns about whether the incident was caused by port congestion, clarifying that preliminary findings indicated the allision was due to the dredger’s sudden loss of engine and steering controls, not congestion.

Mr Chee also noted that delays experienced by container vessels were a separate issue related to the bunching of arrivals at PSA.

Initial alert and spread of oil spill

Earlier reports indicated that Sentosa Development Corporation (SDC) was alerted to the oil spillage at Palawan Beach at 9 pm on 14 June. By 7 am on Saturday, the oil had spread to other beaches.

Posting on Facebook about his visit to Labrador Nature Reserve on Saturday, National Development Minister Desmond Lee advised the public to stay away due to the strong fumes.

Mr Lee reported that NParks is deploying booms to protect the rocky shores from further oil spill contamination.

However, questions have been raised about the timing, as the booms were only deployed on Saturday, a day after the oil spill occurred.


Environmental impact

Photos shared by Singaporeans who visited the seashores on Sunday depict the severe impact of the spill, raising concerns about the long-term environmental effects on Singapore’s coastlines and marine ecosystem.

Keppel Bay area, Bukit Chermin Boardwalk (3.15 pm on 16 June 2024)

East Coast Park Area G on jetty facing National Sailing Centre (16 June 2024)

Conservation group Marine Stewards reported to local media CNA sightings of dead fish and oil-covered otters, primarily around the Southern Islands.

Founder Sue Ye noted that it is too early to determine the full extent of the damage.

According to The Straits Times, four oil-coated collared kingfishers were rescued following the oil spill, although two have since died. The National Parks Board (NParks) and wildlife rescue group Acres each retrieved two kingfishers.

At Acres, the first rescued kingfisher died on 16 June, about 36 hours after being rescued. Although the exact cause of death was unclear, the bird showed signs of dehydration, said Acres co-chief executive Kalai Vanan Balakrishnan.

The other kingfisher at Acres is on the road to recovery, but Mr Kalai estimated it only has about a 30 per cent chance of survival.

Acres, or the Animal Concerns Research and Education Society, anticipates receiving more reports of wildlife casualties from the oil spill on June 14, Mr. Kalai added.

The group has already received reports of other animals, such as otters and monitor lizards, being covered in oil, but rescue teams could not locate these animals upon arrival.

NParks stated they will continue efforts to closely monitor the immediate impact on marine habitats, including corals and wildlife.

“We will also monitor the post-impact recovery, and assess if habitat restoration efforts are required. We will explore activating volunteers for post-cleanup intertidal surveys as well.”

Members of the public who encounter any oil-slicked animals can contact the Animal Response Centre at 1800 476 1600 (24 hours).

If visiting parks along the northeast and west coasts, the public can help report sightings of oil stains at, which will complement NParks’ monitoring efforts in areas not yet observed to be impacted by oil spillage.

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Own self praise own self again.

This Chee Hong guy is learning the bad pappy habit of getting brownie points first to cover his a*shole promptly.

Now his colleague Demon lee says that full environmental impact has yet to determine.

Wtf, bunch of inept $m clowns is only good in doing taichi

Pappie language: Fast response – meaning quickly covers own backside; throw smoke; no Blaming Culture.

When the allision incident actually happens? Was MPA alerted immediately or hours later? And by who? This CHT should immediately release statement stating when MPA passed the last internal / external audit / inspection just like what happens when Dali hit and brought down the Baltimore bridge. This is also a mitigation for MPA / authority failure if any. When nothing happens, we can proudly claim that we do table top exercise and rehearsal to prepare for such incident. When it actually happen, we will do under table exercise to see how we could absolve our failure. FYI, this damage… Read more »

CHT should tell the truth that the clean up will take time. Why try to collect accolades at this time? There is no way our seas can be clean in the next few years even if the visible oil is removed. The impact on our marine lives will remain.

This guy is in the same f-mold of Lui tuck yew basically jinxed!!! Lui tuck yew failed & left for a post in Washington,for papee failure comes with better privileges.

This chee hong tart always have so many so-called “reasons” to tell the public whenever something happens… One very simple question – “If MPA acted fast, why the east coast is also affected by the oil spill to this extent that needs thousand over manpower to help clean this mess???” Where are all the rest of the civil servants??? Sitting inside their offices, sipping kopi and reading this piece of news??? All civil servants have the duty to serve the nation when needed, but not just about collecting monthly salaries. Please pluck 100 personnel from every government department to go… Read more »

Very little on details about the cause of the collision – MPA pilot sleeping? Prevention should be better than fast response, no? CHT is soooooo green, hor.

Recall MRT fast response when 2 tech were hit by train (and died) – immediate denial, saying “No Lapses, please ignore the 2 dead bodies”.

The language that this grotesquely overpaid and shit for value government, … beggars belief and displays an outright contempt for the people they serve and represent !!!

They have the audacity, … to milk the disastrous oil spillage, to “praise/commend ownself” with words like fast and mitigate !!!

This regime is indeed a “class act” in mitigating their deficiencies and inefficiencies, … with bullshit followed by even more bullshit !!!

of all Ministers tho made dumb by the regime, this is one Mother fkcer born in the womb!

1.Fast response. But the Mini star FAILED to provide necessary info on time lines of Crucial Actions.
2. Mitigates means lessen – THIS IS ENTIRELY a BIG BS terminology.

If actions are NOT to Mitigate, Then WTF hell is?

Motherhood experts in PAP make FALSEHOODS SALIVARY mouth washes to mitigate their impacts on sheeps thinking, How about this?