Shipping firms warn of haze danger in Malacca Strait

Jun 21, 2013

Shipping companies warned Friday that the haze emanating from forest fires in Indonesia could lead to accidents in the busy Malacca and Singapore straits, risking a potentially devastating oil spill.

The Singapore Shipping Association (SSA) said more than 140 ships, including and passenger ferries, navigate the narrow waterways on any given day and reduced visibility due to the smog has made conditions dangerous.

"The SSA is gravely concerned with the effects of the worsening hazy conditions on the safe navigation of ships through the Straits of Malacca and Singapore," it said.

Daniel Tan, the trade body's executive director, said the Malacca and Singapore straits are among the busiest and narrowest shipping lanes in the world.

"Reduced visibility in such heavy will definitely affect the safe navigation of ships in the straits," Tan said in a statement.

"In the event of any unfortunate accident, human lives and the marine environment will be at risk, especially if it involves a fully laden VLCC (very large crude carriers)," he warned.

"The oil spillage from the tanker can have serious consequences not only on the marine life in the straits but also affect the livelihood of fishermen and those who depend on the tourist industry."

Smog from the forest fires in Indonesia's caused by slash-and-burn land-clearing activities has blanketed Singapore, parts of Malaysia and the straits this week.

In Singapore, the pollution index reached a historic high of 401 at midday Friday as thick grey smog surrounded skyscrapers, crept through homes and shrouded streets for a fifth day running.

Massive oil tankers, , cruise liners as well as smaller crafts like passenger ferries, tugs and barges ply the straits daily. Many of the ships pass through Singapore, a global bunkering centre and one of the world's busiest ports.

While ship captains are trained to navigate through foggy and , transiting through the waterways "can be very challenging and dangerous especially under extreme smoky conditions," the SSA said.

Explore further: Food or fuel? How about both?

Related Stories

Singapore pollution reaches hazardous levels

Jun 21, 2013

This week Singapore's pollution standards index (PSI) reached 400, breaking all previous records and prompting government health warnings. A PSI reading above 200 indicates "very unhealthy" air, while a PSI ...

Singapore haze at worst yet, Malaysia schools shut

Jun 20, 2013

Singapore urged people to remain indoors because of record air pollution Thursday as a smoky haze wrought by forest fires in neighboring Indonesia worsened dramatically. Nearby Malaysia closed 200 schools ...

Singapore chokes on smoke from Indonesia

Sep 07, 2012

Singapore registered its worst level of air pollution for the year on Friday as smoke from forest fires in Indonesia blew over the city-state, triggering a health warning.

Recommended for you

EPA says first day of oil spill spent 'planning'

13 hours ago

On the afternoon of the largest coastal oil spill in California in 25 years, graduate student Natalie Phares quickly organized a volunteer bucket brigade to clean a beach north of Santa Barbara.

Great Barrier Reef stays on UN watch list

20 hours ago

The Great Barrier Reef will remain under surveillance but not be listed as endangered, according to a draft recommendation to the UN's World Heritage Committee, published on Friday.

Food or fuel? How about both?

May 29, 2015

In the United States, federal mandates to produce more renewable fuels, especially biofuels, have led to a growing debate: Should fuel or food grow on arable land? Recent research shows farmers can successfully, ...

Using desalination to address drought

May 29, 2015

"It's a very interesting time in the water industry," says Carlos Riva '75, CEO of Poseidon Water, a company that is drawing attention as it develops, in Southern California, what will be the largest seawater ...

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.