Parliament Q&A

Oral Reply by Mr Masagos Zulkifli, Minister for the Environment and Water Resources, to Parliamentary Questions on Pollution Incidents in Pasir Gudang, on 8 July 2019

Question from Mr Melvin Yong Yik Chye: To ask the Minister for the Environment and Water Resources whether the Ministry is keeping a close monitoring on the development of the recent air pollution incident in Pasir Gudang and whether it will affect Singapore given the close proximity.

Question from Mr Pritam Singh: To ask the Minister for the Environment and Water Resources in light of the Pasir Gudang chemical spill in March 2019 (a) how does the air and water quality in Sengkang, Punggol, Pasir Ris and Pulau Ubin compare with other parts of Singapore from 2008 to 2018, particularly during the northeast monsoon seasons; and (b) what contingency plans are there in the event of an environmental disaster in Johor affecting residents in the aforesaid areas. 

Reply by Minister Masagos Zulkifli:

The National Environment Agency (NEA) monitors and reports the air quality in Singapore through a network of five national air quality monitoring stations across the island. These stations are representative of the ambient air quality of the North, South, East, West and Central regions. Criteria pollutants, namely, sulphur dioxide, nitrogen dioxide, carbon monoxide, ozone, and particulate matter (both PM2.5 and PM10), are continuously monitored and reported on an hourly basis as the Pollutant Standards Index, or PSI. In addition, NEA monitors the coastal water quality continuously through buoy-based monitoring sensors deployed in eight locations around Singapore, including the Straits of Johor. This is supplemented by monthly collection samples from 48 sampling points around Singapore.

2. From 2008 to 2018, the air and water quality in the northeast region were comparable to the rest of Singapore, including during the northeast monsoon season.


3. The air and water quality in Singapore have not been affected by the recent pollution incidents in Pasir Gudang. The ambient levels of Volatile Organic Compounds  - VOCs - in the northeast region were also well within safe limits. The Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF) also deployed portable standoff chemical gas detectors in the northeast, and did not detect any toxic chemicals in the air.


4. NEA and SCDF are in contact with Malaysia’s Department of Environment, orDOE and Fire and Rescue Department (BOMBA) on this latest incident, and will continue to monitor the situation and provide updates if there are significant developments.


5. Our agencies have put in place precautionary measures to guard against any potential pollution impacts arising from chemical incidents, including those from transboundary sources. NEA’s existing air monitoring stations in the northeast region are able to measure the ambient concentration of a variety of VOCs including benzene, toluene, and xylene in the parts per billion range. These capabilities and with the support of SCDF’s portable detectors should allow us to detect a transboundary plume and to alert our population accordingly.

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