Apr 5, 2008

Families swimming at East Coast end up covered in sticky black oil

A day at the beach... SPOILT
Families swimming at East Coast end up covered in sticky black oil
The New Paper 5 Apr 08;

THE children were frolicking in the water off East Coast Park and, along with some other unsuspecting beachgoers, they were in for an unpleasant surprise.

Siblings Siti Ramli, 5, and Ramadan Ramli, 8, found themselves covered in sticky black oil.

Except that they did not seem to find it all that unpleasant.

They proudly showed their oil-stained hands and feet to The New Paper at the beach yesterday.

After patches of oil were found off the East Coach beach two days ago, the National Environmental Agency (NEA) issued a press statement advising the public to stay away from the water.

But several beachgoers seemed unaware of the warning.

Apart from the children, a 42-year-old chef, Mr Hu Bai Chuan, had gone for a dip around 1.30pm in an area of the sea where the oil was still present.

'The oil can't be seen, it can only be felt. When I came out of the water, my body felt very slippery,' he said in Mandarin.

He then moved to a cleaner area of the beach.

A cleaner at East Coast Park, who wanted to be known only as Mr Ng, said: 'Yesterday, one woman went into the sea. When she came out, her legs were all black. She had a lot of trouble cleaning it off.'

When The New Paper visited the beach yesterday, we did not see any signs warning the public about the oil slick in the water.

Some school students participating in a beach clean-up were told to leave by an NEA officer who was collecting water samples.

One of their teachers said: 'We were here for about half an hour before the NEA guy told us to stay away from the water.'


Cleaners trying to remove the oil used shovels to scoop up the oil-stained sand into green plastic bags.

The bags were then taken away in a lorry.

About five such workers were spotted along one stretch of the beach.

One of them, Mr Sharul, 36, said: 'Yesterday, we worked for more than 12 hours. We started at 7am and finished at 10pm. It is a very difficult job.'

He said the situation yesterday was much worse, with the water being much darker because of the oil.

The Maritime Port Authority of Singapore said it had surveyed the port waters and there had been no more sightings of oil.

'There have also been no reports of oil pollution from ships in our port. We will continue to closely monitor the waters,' it said.

The NEA is still looking into the cause of the oil slick.

Cheryl Teo, newsroom intern

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