Sunday, May 30, 2010

Singapore Coping with Oil Spill

Singapore: Almost a week after 2,500 tonnes of crude oil leaked into the sea about 13 kilometres off Changi East - the result of a collision between the 57,017-tonne tanker MT Bunga Kelana 3 (below) and the 15,272-ton bulk carrier MV Waily early Tuesday morning (May 25, 2010) - the authorities and non-governmental organisations here have managed to bring the disaster under control.

Whilst the National Environment Ageny (NEA) has headed the containment and clean-up operation of the oil spill itself by setting up booms at sea and on shore, the National Parks Board (NParks) has teamed up with biodiversity experts from the Tropical Marine Science Institute and the Raffles Museum of Biodiversity Research to monitor and manage the situation at locations such as Chek Jawa and Pulau Ubin which are rich in marine life. Although the impact of long-term effects is yet to be seen, the authorities reassure the public that the immediate danger has subsided.

Similarly, the Animal Concerns Research & Education Society (ACRES) has mounted daily operations along East Coast Park to rescue animals that have been victimised by the oil spill. Whilst its team of volunteers report sightings of much dead sea-life as a result of getting caught in the thick crude oil, over 200 lives have been saved, with most of them being cleaned and relocated to safer areas such as Sembawang Beach.

The NEA meanwhile reports that it deployed 50 cleansing workers and 30 NEA officers to clean and monitor the situation over the first 2 days, whilst the Maritime and Port Authority (MPA) reports that it has deployed 25 specialised boats, 1,490 metres of containment booms and 140 seaward personnel to contain and disperse the oil slick at sea over the past 5 days.

Some of the spill has now reached parts of the Malaysian eastern coastline and reports there say Tanjung Stapa, Tanjung Kapal, Sungai Rengit, Kampung Jawa, Sungai Mu-suh, Sungai Haji Ahmad and Sungai Haji Yusof have all been affected, causing disruption to the lives of at least 1,400 fishermen there. The Malaysian Department of Environment (DOE) adds that 6,900 litres of sludge has been collected thus far. Fortunately, Indonesian authorities report that their waters remain unaffected by the spill.

Observers note that the current disaster is 10 times smaller than the worst oil spill in Singapore's history which occurred as a result of a collision between 2 oil tankers in 1997. However, unlike the 1997 incident where efforts were largely led by government agencies, this incident has seen a strong and immediate response from the community at large with non-governmental organisations as well as general volunteers stepping in to complement the overall effort.

A facebook page titled Singapore Changi East Oil Spill has been created to monitor the developments and many independent marine-life enthusiasts and environmentalists have extensively documented the damage and clean-up operations. This can be contrasted against past incidents where government agencies were expected to manage the situation alone and the public largely preferred to remain as critical observers. It is therefore a welcome change to see all effort being directed to resolving the situation without the unnecessary distraction of assigning blame for the accident.

Photos: ACRES, Serfly Giri

For a more in-depth discussion of the developments and the issue, please refer to the following specialist blog:

Those interested to volunteer their time and effort are encouraged to contact ACRES at 97837782 (volunteers are advised to prepare to bring containers to place the animals in, trash bags and to wear boots).

Sunday, May 23, 2010

ACRES Gala Dinner 2010 Resounding Success

Singapore, 22 May 2010: Animal Concerns, Research and Education Society (ACRES) held their annual Gala Dinner to a full house of supporters at Furama Riverfront Hotel who showed their faith in the organisation through their boisterous cheers - as well as via their wallets.

Celebrating its 9th year, ACRES saw over 200 guests honour the occasion, with Senior Parliamentary Secretary of the Ministry of Manpower & Ministry of Health and Member of Parliament for Sembawang GRC, Mr Hawazi Daipi, gracing the event as the guest-of-honour.

The dinner included rousing performances by the percussion group Baracuda Batucada (right), a hilarious audience game involving some sporting guests, a symbolic cake-cutting ceremony, and 2 sets of exciting auctions which witnessed bidding wars involving thousands of dollars. The good natured event also included some of these auction items being donated back for re-auctioning.

The money raised was for ACRES to fund its operations - it reportedly needs $100,000 urgently - and notably, by the end of the night over $60,000 had been raised for the non-profit organisation.

Budding Artist Revealed

A hidden talent was also unearthed at the event as some of the items on auction included charcoal sketches and an oil painting produced by Ms Anbarasi Boopal (left, with her artworks and the respective successful bidders), the Director of the Wildlife Rescue Centre and Crime Unit at ACRES. One source VegVibe spoke to informed that Ms Anbarasi had in fact not expected the artworks to attract more than $80, but fortunately they commanded bids that were commensurate with the quality - one proud guest secured a beautiful oil painting of Big Momma, the star tortoise, for the price of $1,600.

The spread provided by the Furama Riverfront Hotel kitchen for dinner proper was vegetarian and most of the items were vegan-friendly as well. The night consequently ended on a high with a lucky draw that included environmentally friendly footwear from Macbeth, Terra Plana, Olsenhaus and Ocean Minded courtesy of kind and sincere sponsors - in which the only adolescents present at the ballroom snapped up 3 of the many items on offer.

And to cap an eventful evening, activist-cum-artist Ms Anbarasi obliged by autographing the artworks for the guests who secured her personal and meaningful creations.

The Animal Concerns Research and Education Society was registered as a society on 24th May 2001 and is registered under the Charities Act and as an Institution of Public Character. It aims to foster respect and compassion for all animals; improve the living conditions and welfare of animals in captivity; and educate people on lifestyle choices which do not involve the abuse of animals and which are environment-friendly.