Malaysia and Singapore Conduct Joint Exercise to Tackle Chemical Spill at Sea
The Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore (MPA) and the Marine Department of Malaysia (MDM) conducted a joint chemical spill exercise at sea along the East Johor Strait to test the Joint Emergency Response Plan for chemical spill incidents.
Jointly developed by MPA, MDM, the National Environment Agency (NEA), and the Johor Department of Environment, the response plan seeks to tackle potential chemical accidents involving the seaborne transportation of hazardous chemicals along the Straits of Johor. The emergency response exercise is part of the bilateral cooperation program under the Malaysia-Singapore Joint Committee on the Environment.
In the event of a chemical spill incident at sea, MPA has put in place the Chemical Contingency Plan (Marine), which covers the roles and responsibilities of the responding agencies for the cleanup operations. MPA will monitor and coordinate cleanup operations at sea while NEA is responsible for monitoring the air and water quality, and to coordinate cleanup efforts at affected shore areas.
The exercise simulated a collision between a chemical tanker MT MAY 2016 departing an oil terminal in Pasir Gudang, Malaysia, and a cargo ship MV JUN 2016 departing an adjacent shipyard, resulting in the spillage of 30 metric tons of chemical. To simulate search-and-rescue coordination efforts, the exercise scenario also incorporated two crew members of MV JUN 2016 falling overboard as a result of the impact caused by the collision.
As the exercise scenario originated from and occurred in Malaysian waters, MDM led the response efforts with MPA supporting the Malaysian authorities for seaward response operations according to the Chemical Contingency Plan (Marine) in areas such as spillage cleanup and search-and-rescue efforts. NEA supported the exercise by monitoring the air and water quality for signs of chemical contamination, information exchange with DOE, and stood ready to coordinate cleanup efforts along Singapore’s shorelines. In total, Singapore deployed four vessels, thirty officers and ten observers to support the exercise.
“The Straits of Johor is a busy waterway,” said Andrew Tan, MPA’s chief executive. “Regular bilateral exercises are vital to strengthening regional and multi-agency response capabilities. Today’s exercise ensures that should collisions leading to chemical or oil spills occur, all agencies are ready to respond swiftly and effectively.”
“Spills can have far-reaching consequences on the environment,” said Ronnie Tay, NEA chief executive officer. “Forums such as the joint committee allow us to hone our bilateral response to protect our shared environment from pollution. We are heartened by the outcome of today’s exercise, which clearly demonstrates the operational readiness of both countries to control and mitigate chemical spill incidents in the Straits of Johor.”
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