This morning, I decided to have a quick look at the stretch of East Coast Park that was reported to have been affected by an oil spill.
The first thing I noticed (besides the fact that it was HIGH tide) was just how CLEAN the beach was. And the water was clean too. There wasn't any smeary traces of oil on seawalls either.
Then it became clear why the sand was so clean. There was veritable army of cleaners out in the early morning, sweeping up after beach users.
Each little pile of swept up debris was bagged. There was a VERY long line of bags and little sweepings piles all along the beach.And what is being swept up?Mostly natural stuff, plus the usual litter. I spoke to one of the earnest cleaners at the beach and asked about the oil pollution, but he didn't speak any English. He's probably from China.
I had to walk further ahead of the cleaners, to get to the beach in it's uncleaned state.All along the shore line, the horizon is crowded with large ships. It is probably not surprising that we have had a 'mystery' oil spill.
And it was here that I spotted the only sign of a spill in the entire trip.Further down the road, and later in the morning, there was a truck fully loaded with rubbish.Obviously from the beach, as it had used BBQ mesh stuck among the bags.Litter is left behind by thoughtless beach users.It's nice to read the papers in the morning by the beach, or have a snack at the jetty, or de-stress with a spot of fishing, but shouldn't we clean up after ourselves?
What's more disturbing is that no one seemed to bother about the litter. Probably waiting for the cleaners to do the job?
Near one of the canals, just next to the beach, was this perplexing sight.It looked like an office that had its walls and roof removed, but much of the contents still remained where they were.
These included a computer table, what looked like a large glass aquarium, several shelves, lots of plastic casings and all kinds of bits and pieces from a broom to used toiletries. There was even something that looked like a crab trap (the orange pyramid-shaped thing). This mess seems to have been there for some time. Surely people are required to completely clean up after themselves if they are moving an office out of a park? All these bits and pieces may end up in the canal and thus on the shore. Such a shame to spend so much (tax) money on cleaners and yet not enforce proper practices, at least on commercial users of the shore.
East Coast Park is a lovely place for huge numbers of Singaporeans to enjoy the outdoors.Swaying palms, clean grounds. Obviously a great hit for the many tents that sprouted by the shore.
Here, families can spend time together. The trails were full of cyclists, joggers, skaters and people walking their dogs.Kids can play at the shore, and fishermen enjoy a day out.In looking for oil pollution, I seemed to have glimpsed more of a different kind of pollution that happens everyday to this beautiful and much loved shore.
Links to more about the oil spill
- Families swimming at East Coast end up covered in sticky black oil The New Paper 5 Apr 08;
- East Coast oil spill: 3km of beach cleared
Tania Tan, Straits Times 4 Apr 08;
- Public advised to avoid swimming at beach affected by oil slick
Channel NewsAsia 3 Apr 08;
- Mystery oil slick along East Coast Park beach
Channel NewsAsia 2 Apr 08;
- Learning about oil spills on the wildfilms blog