JOHOR BARU • It will cost about RM5 million (S$1.6 million) to clean up the oil slick in the Pasir Gudang waters off Johor and owners of the two container ships involved in the spill will have to foot the bill.
Johor Port Authority general manager Muhammad Razif Ahmad said about 100 personnel from 10 agencies were involved in the clean-up which started on Wednesday, a day after the two vessels collided at Johor Port in Pasir Gudang.
"Based on our observations, the spilled oil is unlikely to spread from where it is floating now," Mr Razif told a press conference at the Johor Department of Environment headquarters on Thursday.
He said the owners of the ships would have to bear the cost of cleaning the sea and shoreline areas.
Johor's Health and Environment committee chairman, Datuk Ayub Rahmat, said the vessels have been detained and the owners must come up with a RM1 million bond each as insurance that the ships would not leave port.
Should they fail to raise the bonds, they can be charged in court, he added.
Mr Derek Teo, chief executive of the General Insurance Association of Singapore, told The Straits Times that shipping vessel owners would usually purchase insurance which would cover the shipown- er's liability to a third party for injury and property damage arising out of the ownership and use of the vessel.
However, any third party filing a claim against the vessel owner must prove that it was indeed negligent and had caused the damage, he said.
Datuk Ayub also said the state authorities would assist some 350 fishermen in the Pasir Gudang area affected by the oil spill to claim compensation from the owners of the ships.
The oil spill, though not as severe as spilled crude oil, should be cleaned up quickly to minimise environmental harm, said Associate Professor Johan Suhaili of Universiti Teknologi Malaysia.
If left unattended, he said, the oil patches would harden over time and form tar balls which would be detrimental to the environment and marine life.
Still, he said, the incident was a minor one compared to an incident last year when a Britain-registered vessel spilled 5,495 tonnes of heavy fuel oil in Tanjung Piai waters.
THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK