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Spill Journal: MT Evoikos

We reflect on some of the past spills with those who were there. This journal looks at our response to the MT Evoikos spill in October 1997.

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Spill Journal: MT Evoikos

In this article, Ahmad Hakim Bin Salleh, Senior Oil Spill Response Specialist, shares his experience responding to the Evoikos Spill.

On the 16th October 1997, two tankers, Evoikos and Orapin Global, collided in the Singapore Strait, resulting in a spill, almost instantaneously, of 25,000 tonnes of fuel oil. The collision left Evoikos, the 75,000-tonne cargo ship, stranded next to the cliffs. 

Reflections of Ahmad Hakim Bin Salleh

"Evoikos was the biggest spill in Singapore waters. I remember we used a helibucket spray for dispersant application. Helicopters were landing on an open military field in Tuas West. It was also the first time we used the spot spraying method, as we could not use our dispersant aircraft because of the proximity to shore and shipping routes. We mainly sprayed around anchorage areas.   

We also used a mechanical skimmer, the Seawolf, to recover oil and a trawl net to retrieve oil-coated debris. We also deployed booms around the surrounding islands and used the sea curtain boom at Marina Bay to prevent oil from entering. At that time, Marina Bay was an open seawater lagoon, not the enclosed reservoir we know today. We deployed about six boom sets and lent the remaining booms to other contractors, using about 50 per cent of our boom stockpile.  

The oil was highly viscous, and we had to take measures to prevent secondary contamination. For example, the oil would stick on the skimmer and melt under the hot sun. Our attempts to recover the oil had limited success as there were limited barges available to store the oil. By the time the barges arrived, most of the oil had dispersed and drifted to Malaysian waters.  

Due to the size of the spill, it was also the first time the civil defence service had to help with offshore operations, which meant providing training, but quickly, the workers started to experience seasickness due to the long hours at sea. To expedite the clean-up operations, other industry organisations such as AMSA and PIMMAG were also activated. 

We also worked very long hours as our base had soil erosion problems, and our vessel, at low tide, would sometimes be blocked by another vessel. This meant we had to closely monitor and adjust operations by sailing due to tide times instead of only when it was light. Ultimately, about 40 km of shoreline, including recreation islands, industrial areas and military facilities, was contaminated. After 11 days, we were demobilised."

Did you know?

Since 1986, Singapore has been the busiest port in the world in terms of shipping tonnage, with an annual average of 140,000 vessel calls.

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