December 23, 2008 Tuesday

Pollution hits waters off Punggol

By Serene Luo

A STRETCH of water off Punggol jetty, on the north-east coastline, has been polluted by an oily substance that has turned the water an oily grey and is leaving a black powdery residue on the beach at low tide.

The National Environment Agency said it is working with the Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore to investigate the cause.

Officers were examining the area, off the Johor Strait, last night.

The affected stretch of beach is at least 200m to 300m long.

Regulars who were at the beach yesterday to fish, swim or play were greeted by an uninviting sight as well as a strong odour of oil.

'It wasn't like this on Sunday,' said Mr Malal Sulong, a 55-year-old operations service officer. 'It's a lot murkier than usual and you can see a layer of oil on the surface.'

Mr Salleh Rahman, 37, who is in the cleaning business, refused to let his four children build sandcastles on the beach.

'It's dirty,' he said.

Though the cause could not be confirmed, one industry insider speculated that one of the many ships or bumboats plying the area - a busy route - could have discharged oil into the water.

Data centre operator Taufik Sardon, 26, said he and his friends would go on fishing, despite the pollution.

'Hopefully, when the tide comes in, the oil will be washed away,' he said, adding that they would still barbecue and eat any squid caught in those waters.

'There are some places with worse pollution than this, and the catch may still be sold, and people are still eating that,' he said.