GEORGE TOWN, May 29 – The ongoing oil spill at the Penang portion of the Malacca Strait is a major environmental fiasco, said Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng today. Lim also said it was “unacceptable” that the discharge from a Port Klang-registered vessel was only reported to state authorities last night, some 24 hours after the incident occurred.
“We are really disappointed that the state government was not informed of the spill until late on Saturday. This is a very serious oil spill, on 70 sq km, and I feel this is going to be a big, genuine environmental crisis. We cannot do anything as maritime matters are under the Federal Government,” he told reporters after attending a fire-walking ceremony at the Kahlee Amman Temple in Air Itam here today.
According to Lim, oil products tanker MT Nautica Maharani was reported to have discharged oil into the North Channel on Friday night. He also dismissed a report by an English daily claiming the pollution was caused by reclamation works that his state government was carrying out in the area.
The Star first reported the oil spill had caused waters from the Swettenham Pier to Gurney Drive to turn brackish. Meanwhile, Lim also said that the spill – which has spread to over 70 square kilometres – could threaten fishes and the livelihood of fishermen.
State Environment Committee chairman Phee Boon Poh told the daily initial investigations found the discharge was a mixture of petrol and engine oil. Commenting further, Lim added that he hope the Federal Government would successfully complete the clean-up operations. He said Federal Government cannot just wash their hands and ignore this because the oil spill is in Malaysian waters.