Oil slick 'contained' off Singapore
The tanker MT Bunga Kelana 3 was carrying 62,000 tons of crude when it collided Tuesday with the bulk carrier MV Waily.
Wed, May 26, 2010 at 03:34 AM
IMPACT: MV Waily is seen here after a collision with a tanker in the Singapore Strait. (Photo: ZUMA Press)
An oil slick from a tanker damaged in a collision off eastern Singapore has been contained by emergency response teams, the vessel's operator and port officials said Wednesday.
"Small patches of oil" were sighted at a naval base near Changi Airport early Wednesday morning, Singapore's Maritime and Port Authority said, and six vessels had been dispatched to clean them up.
"Other than this, the oil slick has not affected Singapore's coastlines," an MPA statement said.
"The waters in our anchorages and the Traffic Separation Scheme south of Changi were reported to be clean," the MPA said, referring to a busy shipping lane also straddling Malaysia and Indonesia.
The Malaysian-registered tanker MT Bunga Kelana 3 was carrying nearly 62,000 tonnes of crude when it collided before dawn Tuesday with the MV Waily, a bulk carrier registered in St Vincent and the Grenadines.
A spokeswoman for the tanker's operator, petroleum shipper AET, told AFP the leaked crude was "more or less contained" and would not spread out of the clean-up zone after being surrounded by booms.
About 2,500 tonnes of crude leaked from a gash on the double-hulled tanker's port side, according to port officials, withdrawing an estimate of 5,000 tonnes in a statement issued by Singapore's ministry of foreign affairs late Tuesday.
Double-hulled tankers are designed to limit spillage in case of a rupture.
In a statement Wednesday, AET said "the incident caused significant damage to the vessel's hull and resulted in a spill of Bintulu light crude oil that is now being cleaned up by specialists using a small armada of boats."
"Efforts resumed early this morning, with the addition of more than 100 personnel deployed along the shoreline in case the spill reaches the coast," the Malaysia-based company said.
Singapore ecologists said they were awaiting progress reports on the clean-up after the government alerted waterfront establishments and communities in districts near Changi Airport to be on standby for a possible oil-spill impact.
"If they manage to contain it, then it won't affect wildlife that much," said Louis Ng, executive director of activist group Animal Concerns Research and Education Society.
An AFP reporter who visited the Changi coast on Wednesday said there were no indications that any of the oil had washed ashore.
The strong smell of crude that had lingered in residential areas near the coast overnight was gone as joggers and cyclists enjoyed the fresh morning breeze.
Singapore food-industry regulators said 51 offshore aquaculture farms near the spill were loaned canvas skirting to cover their underwater nets and prevent any leaked oil from contaminating their fish stocks.
The collision took place in a busy shipping route along the Singapore and Malacca straits but ship traffic was not affected by the incident and clean-up, port officials said.
Singapore is one of the world's leading ports, with data from the port authority showing the island-nation handled 472 million tonnes of cargo last year, with bulk oil cargo constituting 37.5 percent of the total.
Hours after the collision, an oil slick about 2.5 miles long and one kilometre wide was spotted near the east coast of Singapore.
There were no immediate estimates of the remaining slick's volume Wednesday, and salvage experts said much of it would evaporate in the tropical heat.
AET said the remaining oil within the damaged section of the tanker was being pumped into another tank in the vessel prior to an underwater inspection of the hull.
Copyright 2010 AFP Global Edition