Oil spill threatens 5km coastline in Penang

  • Nation
  • Sunday, 29 May 2016

Slimy strip: Weekend anglers along the Esplanade trying to fish despite the strip of black oil floating on the sea.

GEORGE TOWN: An oil spill has polluted a 5km coastline on the island stretching from Swettenham Pier to Gurney Drive.

Sea currents pushed the black oil – estima­ted to be a few thousand litres – to the shoreline, creating a slimy strip up to 2m wide in some stretches.

Penang Port chief operating officer Sasedha­ran Vasudevan said the spill was first detected at the Prai Bulk Terminal on the mainland on Friday night.

Clean up operations by the port, Department of Environment (DOE) and private oil companies began immediately, he said, but not before sea currents spread the oil to the island.

Sasedharan said the private oil companies deployed their tugboats and manpower to manually scoop the scum up.

DOE state director Nor Juliana Jaafar said the department had sent personnel to inspect ships along the channel in an attempt to find the culprit.

It has also sent the oil for analysis with the results expected to be known tomorrow.

“It’s not a continuous line but there are patches of the oil seen all along the affected coastline. We have asked the Marine Depart­ment to help determine the extent of the damage,” she said, adding that DOE would also inspect the spill from the air.

State Environment Committee chairman Phee Boon Poh said initial tests showed that it was a mix of fuel and engine oil.

“We have zeroed down to one ship that could have caused this during the investigation. We will check further and take action soon,” he said.

Meanwhile, photographs of the incident are spreading on Facebook, showing fishermen’s nets covered in the oil.

The last time an oil spill occurred here was in May 2012 when hotel guests in Batu Fer­ringhi found strips of sand polluted with black oil on the beach.

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