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Source: Asia Pacific Region 2 – Singapore

12th emergency response exercise part of bilateral co-operation under Malaysia-Singapore Joint Committee on the Environment

JOINT NEWS RELEASE BETWEEN NEA AND DOE

Singapore, 25 September 2019 – The National Environment Agency (NEA), Singapore and the Department of Environment (DOE), Malaysia, today successfully conducted an emergency response exercise on tackling a chemical spill incident at the Tuas Second Link.

2          The exercise was conducted as part of the bilateral cooperation programme under the auspices of the Malaysia-Singapore Joint Committee on the Environment (MSJCE). It serves to test the effectiveness of the chemical spill Emergency Response Plan jointly developed by NEA and DOE to coordinate both countries’ emergency responses to potential transportation accidents involving hazardous chemicals on the Tuas Second Link. A total of 11 agencies from both countries were involved in the exercise (refer to Annex A for more information on the MSJCE and the exercise participants).

3          Today’s exercise simulated an accident involving a tanker truck carrying ammonia gas, and a lorry carrying 20 drums of hydrochloric acid. Following a heart attack, the lorry driver lost control of his vehicle and hit the truck from the rear. Due to the impact, four drums of hydrochloric acid fell onto the road and ruptured. The impact damaged the tanker’s valve and caused ammonia to leak. The lorry driver fell unconscious and the truck driver collapsed from inhaling the toxic fumes (refer to Annex B for a pictorial representation of the exercise scenario and information on hydrochloric acid and ammonia).

4          Each year, about 160,000 tonnes of hazardous chemicals are transported between Malaysia and Singapore via the Tuas Second Link. While there has been no accident involving the transportation of hazardous chemicals on the Tuas Second Link, the exercise helps to enhance the capabilities of the emergency response agencies, ensuring that they are able to take swift and effective action to protect the public’s safety should such an accident occur.

5          NEA Chief Executive Officer, Mr Tan Meng Dui, reiterated the importance of the exercise, “This is the twelfth such bilateral exercise that we have conducted under the auspices of the Malaysia-Singapore Joint Committee on the Environment. The continued success of this collaboration highlights the commitment of agencies from both countries to ensure a prompt and effective response to any chemical spill incident at the Tuas Second Link. It also serves to improve mutual understanding and get both sides used to working together to address any incidents with potential environmental impact.”

6          DOE’s Director General, Puan Norlin Jaafar, fully supported the bilateral chemical spill exercise conducted over the years. “This is to enhance the coordination between the two countries regarding the emergency response procedures, and to allow early notification on any incident involving vehicles transporting chemicals on the second crossing,” she said.

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ANNEX A

The Malaysia-Singapore Joint Committee on the Environment (MSJCE)

Background

            The Tuas Second Link was opened on 2 January 1998. As part of the bilateral co-operation programme, the Malaysia-Singapore Joint Committee on the Environment (MSJCE) agreed that road transportation of hazardous chemicals between the two countries should be restricted to the Tuas Second Link. This has ensured that road tankers and vehicles carrying hazardous chemicals do not pass through congested and populated areas in Johor Bahru and Woodlands/Bukit Timah areas.

2          Hazardous chemicals are often moved between the two countries. The common chemicals transported between the two countries include sulphuric acid, hydrochloric acid and sodium hydroxide. Considering the large amounts of chemicals transported via the Tuas Second Link, it is important to have in place response plans for any accidents or emergencies involving vehicles transporting hazardous chemicals.

3          Under the auspices of the MSJCE, the Department of Environment (DOE), Malaysia, and the National Environment Agency (NEA), Singapore, had jointly developed an Emergency Response Plan (ERP) to deal with accidents involving transportation of hazardous chemicals on the Tuas Second Link. The ERP comprises the following:

(a)       a notification procedure to alert the two countries early on any incident involving release of hazardous chemicals occurring on the Tuas Second Link; and

(b)       a response procedure to facilitate and co-ordinate emergency response actions by the agencies of both countries to control and mitigate a release of hazardous chemicals from incidents occurring on the Tuas Second Link.

4          The ERP will enable emergency response agencies of both Malaysia and Singapore to take quick and effective response actions to minimise the consequences of an accident involving hazardous chemicals at the Tuas Second Link. To familiarise agencies from both countries with the ERP, DOE and NEA regularly conduct joint field exercises.

5          Previous exercises details are as follows:

No.

Date of Exercise

Organised by

1

22 Mar 2000

Malaysia: DOE

2

10 May 2001

Singapore: NEA

3

19 Dec 2002

Malaysia: DOE

4

19 Feb 2004

Singapore: NEA

5

10 Apr 2006

Malaysia: DOE

6

2 Apr 2008

Singapore: NEA

7

2 Dec 2009

Malaysia: DOE

8

28 July 2011

Singapore: NEA

9

29 Oct 2013

Malaysia: DOE

10

14 May 2015

Singapore: NEA

11

15 Nov 2017

Malaysia: DOE

 

Participating Agencies in the 12th Malaysia-Singapore Joint Emergency Exercise for Chemical Spill

S/N

Singapore

1.

2.

3.

4.

Immigration and Checkpoints Authority (ICA)

National Environment Agency (NEA)

Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF)

Singapore Police Force (SPF)

 

S/N

Malaysia

1.

2.

3.

4.

5.

6.

7.

Department of Environment

Royal Malaysian Police

Fire and Rescue Department (BOMBA)

Department of Health

Malaysian Civil Defence Force

Immigration Department of Malaysia

Linkedua / PLUS Malaysia Bhd

 

ANNEX B

Scenario for 12th Malaysia-Singapore Joint Emergency Exercise for Chemical Spill at the Tuas Second Link

Scenario

On 25 September 2019, an accident involving a truck carrying an ISO tank, carrying ammonia gas, and a lorry, carrying 20 drums of hydrochloric acid, took place while the vehicles were moving towards Singapore.

2          The lorry driver suffered a heart attack and lost control of his vehicle, hitting the truck from the rear. Due to the impact, four drums of hydrochloric acid fell from the lorry and onto the road. Two drums rolled over to Singapore’s part of the bridge and ruptured. Two drums remained in Malaysia’s part of the bridge, but were ruptured and released fumes. The impact of collision damaged the valve of the ISO tank and caused ammonia to leak.

3          The lorry driver was found unconscious inside the vehicle. The ISO tank truck driver collapsed on the road from inhaling toxic fumes while attempting to stop the drums from rolling further.

4          Figure 1 shows a pictorial representation of the incident.


Figure 1: Incident Layout

Information on Concentrated Hydrochloric Acid

Physical Description

  • Concentrated hydrochloric acid is a colourless to yellowish liquid.
  • It is highly corrosive and has a pungent smell. It is highly reactive with alkalis.

Health Hazard

  • Concentrated hydrochloric acid is corrosive to the skin and can cause burns.
  • If it comes into contact with the eyes, it may cause severe burns and permanent eye damage.
  • Inhalation of vapours can cause coughing, choking, inflammation of the nose, throat, and upper respiratory tract, and in severe cases, pulmonary edema, circulatory failure, and death.

Industrial Uses

  • Hydrochloric acid is used in the large-scale production of organic compounds used in plastics and pharmaceutical products.
  • It is also used in the iron and steel industry, during food processing and in industrial wastewater treatment.

Information on Ammonia

Physical Description

  • Colourless gas with an extremely pungent odour.
  • It is reactive with oxidising agents and strong acids.

Health Hazard

  • Corrosive to tissues and can cause burns. Exposure to ammonia may cause rapid skin or eye irritation.
  • Inhalation of vapours can cause coughing, nose and throat irritation. In serious cases, it may result in respiratory distress or failure.

Industrial Uses

  • Ammonia is often used in the manufacture of plastics, dyes and chemicals.
  • Ammonia can also be used as a refrigerant in refrigeration systems.

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