(EnergyAsia, May 27 2010, Thursday) — Response teams are fighting to contain an environmental disaster after 2,500 tonnes of crude oil spilled into the sea off Singapore’s Changi coast following a collision between Malaysian tanker MT Bunga Kelana and MV Waily, a bulk carrier registered in St Vincent and the Grenadines on Tuesday morning.
There were no reports of casualties, but fish farmers in Singapore’s far eastern corner are worried that the oil and anti-slick chemicals could seriously damage their livelihood. The slick has also not affected shipping activities in one of the world’s busiest ports.
Marinas, ferry terminals, sea sports centres and other waterfront facilities were placed on alert to deal with possible business interruptions and other effects of the spill.
“Non-toxic and bio-degradable oil spill dispersants were used to break up the oil slick into smaller globules and containment booms were used to contain and prevent the oil slick from hitting the coastlines,” said the Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore (MPA).
A total of 20 craft from Singapore and Malaysia has been deployed to fight the slick which has spread quickly to measure more than four km by one km later the same day, making it the worst oil spill in Singapore for over a decade.
MT Bunga Kelana, which was carrying nearly 62,000 tonnes of Bintulu light crude oil, suffered a 10-metre gash on its port side and began spilling out its contents shortly after the collision in the Singapore Strait. The crude will likely evaporate fairly quickly, especially under the glare of the hot tropical sun.
Patches of oil and sheen were sighted at Changi Naval Base, and along the coastline between Tanah Merah Ferry Terminal and Changi Naval Base, and between National Sailing Centre and the NSRCC-SAFRA Resort, said the MPA.
Singapore’s National Environment Agency and contractors engaged by Malaysia’s AET, the tanker’s operator, are continuing their containment and clean up efforts in the sea off Changi.
The MPA said the two vessels are currently anchored in the Singapore Strait. MV Waily is about 11 kilometres southeast of Changi East while MT Bunga Kelana 3 is about seven kilometres south of Changi East.