Oil spill 'emergency' well in hand

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 05 August, 1995, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 05 August, 1995, 12:00am

LARGE oil spills were not likely in Hong Kong despite its rapid growth in shipping traffic, officials said yesterday.

And they insisted emergency services were well equipped to handle such a crisis if it did happen.

About 90 government and oil company workers took part in a simulated major oil spill in the harbour to demonstrate the point.

It was the first time the oil companies - Esso and Mobil - had participated in the annual exercise, which is in its third year.

About 10 boats were involved in the operation, surrounding the 'spill' with rubber cables and spraying water in place of the usual chemicals.

Co-ordinated by the Marine Department, the seven-hour operation off Kowloon Bay went smoothly with persistent rain the only hitch.

Police, Fire Services, and the Water Supplies, Agriculture and Fisheries, Environmental Protection and Civil Aviation departments all participated.

The exercise followed a major communications drill last week, which found that help might be needed from Singapore if a spill was too big to handle alone.

So far Hong Kong has escaped major oil spills.

Marine Department port operations senior marine officer Stephen Lam Wai-ming said the biggest was Yau Ma Tei's 'medium'-sized spillage in 1990.

Mr Lam said that upgraded equipment and shipping standards meant accidents were no more likely now and would not be even when Hong Kong's port size was doubled.

And if there was a major accident he said the authorities could cope.