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Oil slick on Singapore's southern coast after boat, fuel ship collide

Robert Besser
20 Jun 2024

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia: An oil spill has blackened part of Singapore's southern coastline, including the popular resort island of Sentosa, following a collision between a dredger boat and a stationary fuel supply ship.

The incident has raised concerns about potential threats to marine wildlife as clean-up operations were underway on June 16.

The Netherlands-flagged dredger Vox Maxima collided with the Singaporean fuel supply ship Marine Honor on June 14, damaging the cargo tank on Marine Honor and causing oil to leak into the sea.

Singapore's Maritime and Port Authority (MPA) said in a statement late June 15 that the oil leak from the vessel had been contained and treated with dispersants. However, due to tidal currents, the treated oil had washed ashore on Sentosa, other southern islands, a nature reserve, and a public beach park.

Sentosa, a significant tourist destination, is home to one of Singapore's two casinos, golf courses, and Southeast Asia's only Universal Studios theme park.

Parts of the beachfront at the public park and the nature reserve have been closed to facilitate clean-up efforts. While the Sentosa beach remains open, sea activities and swimming are prohibited.

On June 16, workers in orange suits were seen scooping up sand during the clean-up operation at an empty beach in Sentosa, where black water had washed up on the oil-stained shore.

Authorities have deployed 18 crafts for the clean-up efforts and laid close to 1,500 meters of container booms, temporary floating barriers to trap the oil spill. "More will be laid over the next few days to prevent further spread of oil onto the shore, and facilitate the recovery of the trapped oil off the affected shorelines and lagoons to prevent them from going back to sea," the MPA statement said.

Conservationists and biologists are closely monitoring the full extent of the damage to marine and wildlife. Local conservation group Marine Stewards reported photos of dead fish, otters, and kingfishers covered in oil slick. Group founder Sue Ye told the Singapore Straits Times that oil spills can smother and suffocate fish, birds, and marine animals that need to surface for air, such as turtles and dolphins.

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