All asbestos traces cleared; St John's Island, Pulau Hantu to fully reopen

St John's Island (above) will reopen its campsites (right) in June after upgrading and maintenance works. Improvements include new kitchenware, electric hobs and furniture.
St John's Island (above) will reopen its campsites in June after upgrading and maintenance works. Improvements include new kitchenware, electric hobs and furniture.ST PHOTO: GIN TAY
St John's Island (above) will reopen its campsites (right) in June after upgrading and maintenance works. Improvements include new kitchenware, electric hobs and furniture.
St John's Island will reopen its campsites (above) in June after upgrading and maintenance works. Improvements include new kitchenware, electric hobs and furniture.ST PHOTO: GIN TAY

All traces of asbestos on St John's Island and Pulau Hantu have been removed, and both islands will be fully reopened to the public, said the Singapore Land Authority (SLA).

The camping facilities on St John's Island are also slated to reopen in June.

SLA, which manages the Southern Islands, discovered asbestos on St John's Island last April.

Traces of asbestos had been detected in construction debris such as roof tiles around the island's campsite, lagoon and holiday bungalow area.

The authority sealed off more than half of the island.

It also worked with other agencies to conduct asbestos surveys on all publicly accessible offshore islands in May last year.

Pieces of debris containing asbestos were found on St John's Island, Pulau Hantu and Kusu Island.

Kusu Island was reopened to the public last October after asbestos removal works on the island were completed in September.

In a statement yesterday, SLA said all asbestos waste on the islands managed by SLA had been cleared safely.

Asbestos is a fibrous mineral that was once a popular component in construction materials.

Due to its links to health problems such as lung cancer, its use in buildings was banned in Singapore in 1989, but many earlier structures still contain the substance.

Structures containing asbestos pose no risk to humans if they are intact. However, when there is damage or disturbance, such as sawing and cutting, fibres may be released into the air and inhaled.

Upgrading and maintenance works across St John's Island's five campsites, which were closed and cordoned off, are now in their final stages and on schedule to be completed by the end of May, said SLA.

Members of the public will be able to book the overnight accommodation facilities of its campsites as well as its holiday bungalow when they reopen on June 1.

SLA said the public can look forward to improvements such as new kitchenware, electric hobs and furniture, as well as a smart lock system to be piloted at one of the campsites there.

It added that the campsites have also been renamed after native wildlife sighted on and around St John's Island, such as the white-bellied sea eagle, Indo-Pacific humpback dolphin, hawksbill turtle and smooth-coated otter.

• Advance online bookings for these facilities can be made at www.sla.gov.sg/tol

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 30, 2019, with the headline 'All asbestos traces cleared; St John's Island, Pulau Hantu to fully reopen'. Print Edition | Subscribe