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Chee Hong Tat: Full oil removal takes time after Pasir Panjang oil spill

Transport Minister Chee Hong Tat updates progress in the oil spill cleanup, emphasizing it will take time for full removal. Concerns rise over the timeliness of response and oil boom deployment as authorities increase efforts, deploying from 1 response craft initially to 18, alongside three Current Buster systems.



SINGAPORE: Following an oil spill last week, efforts to clean up affected beaches in Singapore are progressing.

Transport Minister Chee Hong Tat stated on Thursday (20 June) that although significant strides have been made, complete removal of the oil will still “take some time.”

In a joint statement the same day, Singaporean authorities reported that the National Environment Agency (NEA) has made substantial headway at East Coast Park, clearing a “large majority” of oil deposits from the beach.

Similarly, significant cleanup progress has been achieved at Tanah Merah beaches. Additionally, beaches on St John’s, Lazarus, and Kusu islands, along with most of Siloso beach on Sentosa, have been cleared of oily sand.

Mr Chee highlighted progress in a Facebook post, emphasizing the ongoing focus on removing visible oil slicks and sheens from water and land using drone surveillance and satellite imagery.

The next phase will involve flushing out stranded oil, including from oil-stained rock bunds.

He acknowledged that the operation would take time and sought understanding from the public and affected businesses.

The incident occurred on 14 June when oil washed up on several Singaporean beaches following a collision between the Netherlands-flagged dredger Vox Maxima and the Singapore-flagged bunker Marine Honour at Pasir Panjang Container Terminal (PPT).

Approximately 400 tonnes of low-sulphur fuel spilt into the sea from Marine Honour’s ruptured oil cargo tank.

Mr Chee clarified that the spill was not due to port congestion.

On Thursday, the Maritime and Port Authority (MPA), NEA, National Parks Board (NParks), PUB (Singapore’s national water agency), Sentosa Development Corporation (SDC), Singapore Food Agency (SFA), and Singapore Land Authority (SLA) provided an update on ongoing clean-up efforts.

While Tanah Merah beaches have been largely cleaned, ongoing efforts are necessary due to potential tides bringing in remnants of oil deposits. Additionally, cleaning of oil-stained rock bunds along Sentosa’s Siloso beach lagoon will commence soon.

Concurrently, clean-up at Sentosa’s Palawan and Tanjong beaches continues, with focused efforts planned following Siloso Beach’s completion.

Containment booms have been deployed off the three Sentosa beaches, the authorities confirmed.

Despite beach accessibility and normal business operations on the islands, sea activities and swimming remain restricted.

Following the deployment of booms on Tuesday, efforts continue to recover accumulated oil off Labrador Nature Reserve and Cooper Channel. Booms were initially placed to safeguard Berlayer Creek and the Rocky Shore at the reserve.

Authorities have confirmed the clearance of oily sand from beaches at St John’s, Lazarus, and Kusu Islands, but these areas will be closely monitored for any resurgence of oil slicks.

As of Wednesday evening, no oil has been observed at Changi and Pasir Ris beaches.

NEA will maintain close surveillance of these beaches. The public is advised against swimming or engaging in primary contact water activities there as a precaution.

Similarly, no oil has been detected in biodiversity-sensitive areas including Chek Jawa Wetlands at Pulau Ubin, Coney Island Park, and Pasir Ris Park, added the joint statement.

Preventive measures such as deploying absorbent booms are ongoing at these locations.

Absorbent booms have also been deployed at West Coast Park as a precaution to protect mangroves in the Marsh Garden area. Authorities confirmed no reports of oil slicks off Changi since Tuesday.

The northern section of Pasir Panjang Terminal has been cleared of oil slicks since Tuesday. Cleaning efforts are actively targeting Berth 36, near where the collision involving Vox Maxima and Marine Honour occurred, using high-pressure jets.

Concerns arise over the timeliness of oil boom deployment

The environmental impact of the oil spill has been severe, with oil washing up on shores, dead fish, oil-covered otters, and the tragic deaths of some rescued kingfishers.

While clean-up operations have been actively carried out by authorities and supported by the public, questions have arisen regarding whether there was a delay in deploying oil booms around Singapore shores to contain the spill.

Significantly, the response effort has been ramped up progressively over the past few days: from 1 response craft initially, to 16, then 18, and now including two skimmer systems deployed since 18 June, and three Current Buster systems.

A Current Buster system is designed to collect oil from the water’s surface. Towed by two vessels, it sweeps the surface, funneling oil towards a containment area.

In an Instagram reel on Wednesday, Minister Chee outlined the authorities’ response timeline, mentioning the deployment of a patrol craft to spray oil dispersants at the spill site.

Contrast that with MPA’s statement on 15 June, which stated, “16 oil spill response craft have been deployed to continue spraying oil dispersants and to collect the oil slicks on the water surface,” and then the joint statement from MPA and other agencies, which said 18.

Mr Chee’s statement also does not shed light on what happened between the point of MPA’s claim of having the spill contained and when the authorities actually put up the booms to prevent further contamination of the beaches and waterways.


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Chee Hong tart,if you take your time,Lawlanwong will send you as a ambassador to Timbuktu in no time that is after the black mamba discharge his poison.

Theyre all full if s**t….
None can even give a simple speech w/o reading from a script.
Still paid mil$…🙄😒😏

Chee Hong Tart has a typical civil servant mindset. Reactive, defensive to cover himself, and quick to shoot off his mouth without marshaling full appreciation of the crisis or situation.

He fails miserably rise to the occasion.

After all, he is made $m ministar overnight by a twist of good fortune on his side. Thanks to istawang.

This is the statement that should have been made from the beginning. There is no way this clean up can be done in days as it was not contained at the source. It is perfectly alright to take time to do a proper clean up. Honesty is the best policy CHT. However the port authority must come up with a rule to limit the amount a ship can carry into our sea borders if it is anchoring.

Chee Hong Tat: Please let us know WHAT happens to those bagged up contaminated sand. Are they sent for “washing”? To recover the oil? To return the cleaned sand back to the beaches? Or are they tossed into the incinerator and then sent to the landfill at Semakau?

These buggers are paid millions to deliver top gun and extraordinary performance

Not merely to keep making motherhood statements and write long stories like Shit Times reporters.

Wake up lah!!

They can put out statements after statements, more statements, press conferences – THERE’S NOTHING to PROVE their substance. It’s ONLY LAYER and Later of cosmetics TO PAPER over their INCOMPETENCE.

Their saliva has to FLOW bcz the show has to continue.

He can still say as much as he likes and needed to – it does NOT ALTER ANY FACT these Millionaire bastards are ROBBERS of SG Reserves.

Award themselves million$ salary – very fast; getting things done – takes time, many excuses, etc. PAP meritocracy style.

Actually in operations, he just need to put in more resources to quicken the clean-up process IF HE HAS A SENSE OF URGENCY. Tell me, if we deploy teams working 24/7 (in shifts) and give workers reasonable pay, how fast can the oil spill be cleaned up? Million$ minister cannot think, hor?

Don’t they have such a bloody easy ride eh. All this dick has done since the spillage, is deliver statements, to the press to regurgitate or in his fb account, … and that is it !!! Mr Dick is neither pressed or pursued to answer questions pertaining to the perceived delay in employing containment booms. All the other water carriers, or rather agencies have rallied behind this dick, … and were almost in sync with their statements too !!! Like everything with this pathetic regime, … it’s always only ever, .. their version of events, their interpretation of any given… Read more »

Hello, are you OK?

At first, chee hong said ‘mitigated’. Now he exclaims that it takes time!

Can you handle it?

Get ready for a rise in SP rates…water, electricity, TC fees and whatever else they can come up with….to help pay for this oil spill disaster…our share🙄
99.9 % …

Only happens in Smart Nation – motherhood statements damn bloody expensive. To be exact, a Million Dollars or might even be more. WOW !