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Singapore's air, water unaffected by Johor toxic waste as at Sunday evening

SINGAPORE remains unaffected by the ongoing chemical spill in the neighbouring Malaysian state of Johor, the authorities here reiterated in a press statement on Sunday evening.

The Republic's air and water quality are still safe, and the authorities will continue to monitor the situation, said the Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority of Singapore (AVA), National Environment Agency (NEA), Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF) and national water agency PUB in a joint statement.

Meanwhile, they said that the incident has had no impact on the Republic's water supply, as the chemical spill took place away from one of Singapore's water sources - the Johor River catchment area.

The dumping of toxic waste into Sungai Kim Kim - a river in industrial Pasir Gudang - has reportedly sickened thousands of people in Johor since the spill came to light in early March. Benzene, hydrogen chloride, methane and toluene have been named some of the hazardous chemicals involved.

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But the NEA, which has buoy-based water-quality monitoring stations in the Johor Strait, said on Sunday that neither those stations nor recent follow-up water samples off Pulau Ubin have detected the compounds identified by Malaysia in the chemical waste.

Tests of seafood samples from Singapore fish farms north of Pulau Ubin have not detected any anomalies either, the authorities added. The AVA noted that it has been working closely with the farms, which are required to immediately report indicators such as abnormal smells or dead fish.

The statement also noted that the SCDF "has not detected any signs of harmful substances" at its portable chemical gas detector in Punggol. Ambient levels of volatile organic compounds like benzene in Singapore's north-east are within safe levels, the 24-hour Pollutant Standards Index has been in the good to moderate range since March 6 and one-hour PM2.5 particle readings register as normal.

"Since reports of the chemical spill incident first surfaced, the relevant authorities have stepped up monitoring, and will continue to do so in order that swift remedial action can be taken, where necessary," the statement concluded. 

"We will also continue to provide timely updates on the situation."