Asia-Pacific

Singapore oil slick closes beach after ship collision

Workers clean oil on a beach in Singapore (27 May 2010)
Image caption The beach closure comes just before school holidays begin

The authorities in Singapore have closed beaches on its east coast because of an oil slick from a damaged tanker.

The order affects 7km (4.3 miles) of the coastline.

It has forced the closure of the national sailing centre and a popular area for swimming, cycling and picnicking ahead of school holidays.

The pungent oil spill resulted from a collision on Tuesday between a Malaysian oil tanker and a cargo ship.

Thousands of metres of containment booms were deployed as part of unsuccessful efforts to stop the slick from fouling the coast.

Initial reports after the collision appeared to downplay the risks to Singapore's coastline and major shipping industry, suggesting 2,000 tonnes of oil could leak.

This was later raised to at least 5,000 tonnes of oil, although officials now say 2,500 tonnes have spilt.

"The main oil slick is largely contained out at sea," a spokeswoman for the Maritime and Port Authority (MPA) had said.

A National Environment Agency (NEA) advisory said: "The extent of the impact is currently minimal, but will require some clean-up over the next few days."

However, wind and sea conditions made containment of the spill at sea more difficult, leading to the coastal contamination risk.

The MPA said the Malaysian-registered tanker Bunga Kelana 3 was damaged in a collision with the MV Wally, registered in St Vincent and the Grenadines.

The Bunga Kelana 3 was carrying light crude oil and condensate.

There was no reported effect on shipping traffic in the Strait of Singapore, one of the world's busiest sea lanes, connecting trade routes from Asia to Africa and Europe.

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