Singapore and Malaysia on April 9 held their first-ever joint chemical spill recovery drill at sea along the Straits of Johor.

Conducted by the Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore (MPA) and the Malaysia Marine Department (MMD), it was held to test the readiness of their agencies to respond in such a crisis.

A statement from the MPA and Singapore ’s National Environment Agency (NEA) said the exercise is part of a bilateral cooperation programme under the Malaysia-Singapore Joint Committee on the Environment and the Emergency Response Plan.

It aims to enhance the preparedness of emergency response agencies from both countries in tackling potential chemical accidents involving the seaborne transportation of hazardous chemicals in the Straits of Johor.

To address any chemical spill incidents at sea, the MPA has put in place the Chemical Contingency Plan (Marine), which covers the roles and responsibilities of responding agencies for cleanup operations.

In the event of an incident, the MPA will monitor and coordinate cleanup operations at sea while the NEA will monitor the air and water quality and coordinate the cleanup efforts at any affected shore areas.

Andrew Tan, MPA chief executive, said regional cooperation is important as incidents at sea resulting in chemical and oil spills are often transboundary in nature.

Such an exercise allows the two countries to test regional and multi-agency response capabilities so that they are ready and well-prepared to respond swiftly and effectively to any maritime accidents, be it a collision, chemical leak or oil spill, he added.-VNA