Toxic Spill Hits Asian Fish Farms

From Associated Press

A tanker capsized in a busy sea lane between Malaysia and Singapore, spilling toxic chemicals into a fish farming ground, authorities said Thursday.

The Endah Lestari, carrying 660 tons of the industrial solvent phenol, began listing shortly after leaving a port at the southern tip of the Malay Peninsula early Wednesday, officials said.

The captain called for assistance, but as the Indonesia-registered ship was being towed away from the sea lane between the peninsula and the island nation of Singapore, it rolled onto its side, about 100 yards from land.

The ship's 13 crew members were unharmed, but an unknown quantity of phenol and a large amount of diesel spilled.

An official with the Johor Port Authority, which is undertaking the cleanup, said it was unknown how much phenol seeped out of the ship because it is colorless and so corrosive that divers cannot examine the hull without special equipment, which was being brought in.

The Singaporean government banned the sale of fish from 37 farms in the area, which is not a commercial fishing ground but is home to dozens of small fish farms.

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