Singapore intensifies oil spill clean up after it spreads along coast

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An oil spill off southern Singapore has spread to other areas of the island’s coast and is threatening a marine reserve, government agencies said, adding that authorities were intensifying efforts to mop up the fuel.

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The oil spilled into Singaporean waters after a Netherlands-flagged dredger struck a stationary Singapore-flagged bunker vessel on Friday afternoon in the southern port of Pasir Panjang.

Authorities had said the vessel was no longer leaking oil, but added in a statement late on Saturday that “due to the tidal current, the treated oil has landed along shorelines including Sentosa, Labrador Nature Reserve, Southern Islands, Marina South Pier, and East Coast Park.”

An oil sheen was also seen in the waters surrounding Sister’s Islands Marine Park, a 400,000 square meter marine protected area, the statement added.

Singapore is a global shipping and fuel bunkering hub. The environmental impact of the oil spill remains unclear, but local newspaper The Straits Times reported that fishermen were on alert for a spike in the number of fish deaths over the next few days.

Andrew Dixon, who runs an sustainable resort less than an hour away from Singapore, said oil spills of this scale are rare, and the authorities need to enact tough penalties “around this sort of stuff so it doesn't happen.”

“It’s just criminal,” he added.

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