S'pore, Malaysia in joint operation to tackle simulated chemical spill

S'pore, Malaysia in joint operation to tackle simulated chemical spill

Rescue teams comprising personnel from Singaporean and Malaysian agencies swung into action yesterday to tackle a simulated chemical spill in Tuas.

The scenario involved a collision between four vehicles - a hazardous chemical tanker, a lorry, a minibus and a car - which resulted in ammonium hydroxide spilling onto the roads.

Drums of hydrochloric acid also fell off the lorry into the sea.

To mitigate the spill of concentrated hydrochloric acid and ammonium hydroxide - which are highly corrosive and can produce fumes which cause respiratory tract irritation - officers from the Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF) and their Malaysian counterparts used water hoses to disperse the vapours while some, donning protective "high-performance suits", used absorbents to soak up the spilled chemicals.

Boats from the Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore, SCDF and the Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency were dispatched to retrieve the fallen barrels of hydrochloric acid and prevent the spread of the chemicals in the sea.

No real hazardous chemicals were used.

The 1 1/2-hour exercise was the 10th such joint effort organised by the National Environment Agency (NEA) and the Department of Environment Malaysia, as part of a bilateral co-operation programme under the Malaysia-Singapore Joint Committee on the Environment.

About 24 agencies were involved in the project in all. Each year, about 110,000 tonnes of hazardous chemicals are transported between Singapore and Malaysia through the Second Link in Tuas.

While there has been no accident in the transportation so far, NEA chief executive Ronnie Tay stressed the importance of emergency preparedness exercises.

"Such exercises serve to enhance the inter-operability 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," he said.

samboh@sph.com.sg


This article was first published on May 15, 2015.
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