24 agencies from Singapore and Malaysia conduct chemical spill exercise

24 agencies from Singapore and Malaysia conduct chemical spill exercise
Johor's Dept of Environment (DOE) and the National Environment Agency (NEA) staged a field exercise to test the operational effectiveness of the Emergency Response Plan (ERP) in this file photo.

SINGAPORE - It sounds like a perfect storm - a chemical spill, trapped victims, crushed vehicles, toxic fumes, acid drums rolling off a causeway to the sea, and victims on a boat. What happens when there is a chemical spill on a congested causeway? This scenario was played out today Singapore's National Environment Agency (NEA) and Department of Environment (DOE) Malaysia.

The simulated chemical spill accident at the Tuas Second Link serves to test the effectiveness of the chemical spill Emergency Response Plan jointly developed by the NEA and DOE.

Ammonia hydroxide from a hazardous chemical tanker was leaking after being hit by a minibus, trapping the minibus driver and passengers.

A lorry carrying drums of hydrochloric acid swerved to avoid the collision, causing four drums of the corrosive acid to roll off the lorry. Two of the four drums then fell overboard on a boat below the Tuas Second Link.

All the drums started leaking profusely, causing the spread of acid fumes around the incident area.

A car that collided into the lorry in the resulting accident was also badly crushed; the conscious driver was suffering from severe head injuries and trapped in his vehicle.

Agencies from both countries then swung into action as part of the emergency response plan, donning the hazmat suits, rescuing the victims, and retrieving the acid drums from the sea.

A total of 24 agencies and companies from both countries were involved in the exercise today, such as the Immigration and Checkpoints Authority, Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore, Singapore Civil Defence Force, and the Police Coast Guard.

A joint statement by both agencies today said that about 110,000 tonnes of hazardous chemicals are transported between Malaysia and Singapore via the Second Link each year.

While there has been no accident involving the transportation of hazardous chemicals on the Second Link, the exercise helps to enhance the capabilities of the emergency response agencies involved, ensuring that they can act to safeguard commuters should such an accident occur.

Commenting on the importance of the exercise, NEA Chief Executive Officer Mr Ronnie Tay said: "Such exercises serve to enhance the interoperability and readiness of the relevant agencies in our two countries, in responding to any chemical spill incident on the Second Link in a prompt, coordinated and effective manner."

grongloh@sph.com.sg

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