MPA says good progress made in containing, cleaning up oil spill; 12 fish farms asked to suspend sales

Workers cleaning up Changi beach on Jan 6, 2017.
Workers cleaning up Changi beach on Jan 6, 2017.ST PHOTO: ONG WEE JIN
Red and white tape blocking off access to the beach.
Red and white tape blocking off access to the beach.ST PHOTO: AUDREY TAN
A trash bag filled with oil stained sand at Changi beach.
A trash bag filled with oil stained sand at Changi beach.ST PHOTO: AUDREY TAN
Debris on Changi beach, covered in oil.
Debris on Changi beach, covered in oil.ST PHOTO: ONG WEE JIN
Debris left on Changi beach, covered in oil.
Debris left on Changi beach, covered in oil.ST PHOTO: ONG WEE JIN
Oil sheen on the water at Changi Creek mangroves.
Oil sheen on the water at Changi Creek mangroves.ST PHOTO: ONG WEE JIN
Dead fish are seen at 2 Jays fish farm, one of the farms affected by the oil spill, on Jan 6, 2017.
Dead fish are seen at 2 Jays fish farm, one of the farms affected by the oil spill, on Jan 6, 2017.ST PHOTO: AUDREY TAN
Mr Timothy Ng, operations manager of 2 Jays fish farm, holds a dead, oil-covered hybrid grouper on Jan 6, 2017.
Mr Timothy Ng, operations manager of 2 Jays fish farm, holds a dead, oil-covered hybrid grouper on Jan 6, 2017.ST PHOTO: AUDREY TAN
Workers pack up oil stained sand at Changi Beach on Jan 6, 2017.
Workers pack up oil stained sand at Changi Beach on Jan 6, 2017.ST PHOTO: AUDREY TAN
Workers load up on more oil absorbing booms during the clean-up efforts at Changi Beach on Jan 6, 2017.
Workers load up on more oil absorbing booms during the clean-up efforts at Changi Beach on Jan 6, 2017.ST PHOTO: AUDREY TAN

SINGAPORE - A total of 12 Singapore fish farms have been asked by the Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority (AVA) to stop selling fish until food safety evaluations are complete.

This is an increase from the three farms which faced the sales suspension on Thursday (Jan 5). 

'Since the oil spill incident, AVA has been visiting coastal fish farms in the East Johor Strait daily to ascertain and mitigate the situation, and assist in the clean-up," said an AVA spokesman.

Oil absorbent pads, and canvas to prevent oil from spreading, have been given to 25 farmers near the oil spill site, she added. 

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


Dead fish are seen at 2 Jays fish farm, one of the farms affected by the oil spill, on Jan 6, 2017. ST PHOTO: AUDREY TAN

AVA's assurance comes on the back of an oil spill from Johor that affected coastal farms in Singapore and stained the Republic's north-eastern shoreline with black, tar-like substances.

The Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore (MPA) in a press release on Friday afternoon said "good progress has been made in containing and cleaning up the oil spillage" caused by the collision of two container vessels off Pasir Gudang port in Johor on Tuesday.

Clean-up operations are still ongoing at Changi Point Ferry Terminal, fish farms at the Nenas Channel and at Noordin beach, the northern coastline of Pulau Ubin, said the MPA.

MPA and other government agencies are "monitoring the situation closely and will carry out necessary clean-up efforts", it added in its release.

Port operations remain unaffected.

Those who spot oil patches in Singapore waters or coastlines may contact MPA's 24-hour Marine Safety Control Centre on 6325-2488 or 6325-2489.


Workers pack up oil stained sand at Changi Beach on Jan 6, 2017. ST PHOTO: AUDREY TAN

Parts of Changi beach remained closed to the public on Friday morning, as work to clean up the remnants of an oil spill continued.

A check by The Straits Times at Changi beach at about 10.30am showed red and white tape blocking off access to the beach, with no swimming signs placed every 10m or so. The signs warned of contaminated waters.

The beach next to the popular Changi Village Hawker Centre was still streaked with a black substance, and a strong smell of petroleum lingered in the air.

There were also plastic bags filled with oil-stained sand lying along the shoreline. Workers were seen spraying jets of a liquid on the walls next to Changi jetty in what looked like an attempt to remove the black, tar-like substance clinging to the walls.

Oil spill response boats seen around Changi jetty had containers labelled "dispersants" on them. Dispersants are chemicals commonly used to break up oil slicks into smaller droplets, in the same way that detergents are used to clean grease from dishes, according to the United States National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.


Workers continue to clean up the aftermath of the oil spill on Changi beach on Jan 6, 2017. ST PHOTO: ONG WEE JIN

Officers wearing MPA polo T-shirts were also seen supervising the works.

The oil spill hit Singapore shores on Wednesday night at about 9.50pm, said the National Environment Agency (NEA). It originated from a collision of container vessels Wan Hai 301 and APL Denver at about midnight on Tuesday.

 

Singapore government agencies, such as the NEA, MPA and National Parks Board (NParks), are working to limit the damage.

AVA said on Thursday it is also conducting lab tests on fish taken from some of the fish farms in the East Johor Strait area.

Operations manager of 2 Jays fish farm, Mr Timothy Ng, said he has lost about 20kg of fish so far. It is too soon to assess the damage, he said, as fish are not directly impacted by the oil spill.

"There will be enough oxygen for the fish as long as the water is moving and not stagnant. The danger happens when they surface to feed, as they may ingest oil-coated food, or get oil in their gills," Mr Ng added. 

He has not fed most of his fish since the oil spill happened on Tuesday, although he told The Straits Times that he may start doing so today as most of the oil has been cleared. He usually feeds his fish once a day.