Promptly Identify Cause Of Oil Spill In Penang Waters

Sahabat Alam Malaysia (SAM) calls on Department of Environment (DOE) and the Penang state authorities to take immediate action to identify the cause of the oil spill that occurred in the waters off Penang Island early this morning.

It is estimated that about two kilometres of coastline near the Paramount fishing shed were polluted due to the oil spill. The time and cause of the incident have yet to be confirmed and a large number of fishermen in the Paramount jetty in Jalan Sultan Ahmad Shah were not aware of the cause. SAM’s survey of the location found that there is no trace of the oil spill because it could have settled or stick to the sediments on the coast.

Prompt action of the authorities to identify the cause and deal with this oil spill is necessary because it not only adversely affects the marine and coastal ecosystem but also affects the source of income of the fisher communities.

The threat to marine life includes toxic effects caused by exposure or contact with oil and can also affect their reproductive system. This will cause the population of marine life to decrease.

The DOE as an enforcement agency for the Environmental Quality Act 1974 for oil spill cases has developed a Hydrocarbon Fingerprinting System (HyFiS) with an oil database to help identify the source of oil spills efficiently. HyFiS helps to increase the efficiency and effectiveness of DOE officers in the prevention, enforcement and investigation of the oil spills that occur by reducing the scope of the search for the source of the spill quickly and efficiently.

We hope that DOE’s expertise can help to unravel and identify the cause of the oil spill. DOE must ensure that stringent action is taken against those who have caused this pollution, pay for clean-up costs as well as compensation for losses incurred by various parties, including fishers who were affected by the oil spill.

SAM also urges the relevant agencies and the State to take prompt action to clean up the oil spill before the situation worsens and threatens the ecosystem, marine life and the livelihood of local fisher communities.

Media Statement, 24 November 2020