Beaches on Singapore’s Sentosa island closed after oil spill

Beaches on Singapore’s resort island and wealthy expat haven of Sentosa were closed after an oil spill at a nearby port on Friday spread to its waters.

Sentosa Development Corp., which manages the island, was alerted on Friday night to “instances of oil spillage in the sea waters” around one of its beaches as a result of an accident between two vessels at the terminal, according to a notice to Sentosa residents on Saturday. 

Upon further assessment on Saturday morning, the oil slick had spread to other beaches on the island, as well as Sentosa Cove, a residential enclave with more than 2,000 homes, according to the notice. It said all of the beaches have been closed to activities and a clean-up has commenced. 

The Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore said Friday evening that it was dealing with an oil spill that occurred after Netherlands-flagged dredger Vox Maxima hit bunker vessel Marine Honour at the Pasir Panjang Terminal in the afternoon. The authority said then that the affected cargo tank has been isolated “and the spill contained.”

A thick smell of petroleum hung over Tanjong Beach on Saturday morning, where black oil coated sand and rocks on the near-deserted shoreline. Clean-up crews and lifeguards wearing protective gear worked meters away from beach volleyball players, who continued with their game even though some said the smell was causing them headaches. 

Tanjong Beach Club, which is normally bustling with guests on weekends, was largely empty. Scattered tables with a handful of diners looked over the shoreline, which was blocked off with tape and warning signs. 

On Saturday afternoon, the MPA said clean-up operations for the oil spill are ongoing, and that it had alerted various waterfront facilities, including Sentosa Development Corp., and port terminals to monitor for oil sightings at their locations. The authority did not say how much oil was spilled. 

“Patches of oil and light sheens have been observed off Pasir Panjang Terminal and along Tanjong, Palawan, and Siloso Beach on Sentosa Island,” according to its statement. It said 16 “oil spill response craft” have been deployed to tackle the problem by spraying oil dispersants and collecting the oil slicks. 

Oil booms, which are floating physical barriers, will be used “to prevent further contamination,” according to the notice to Sentosa residents Saturday morning, which was sent by Knight Frank Property & Facilities Management on behalf of Sentosa Cove Resort Management.

Knight Frank did not immediately respond to requests for comments. –BLOOMBERG