NParks: Debris with asbestos found on Ubin

Debris containing the potentially toxic mineral asbestos has been found on Pulau Ubin, an island off the Republic's eastern coast.

The National Parks Board (NParks), which manages the island, said yesterday that "small pieces of debris containing asbestos were found at four isolated locations on the island and have been removed".

It added that the four areas off Jalan Mamam, the Sensory trail and Jalan Wat Siam on the island were not easily frequented by the public.

This is the latest development in the spread of asbestos, which has, since April, been found at a number of places in the southern islands.

On May 19, NParks said it was surveying Pulau Ubin to determine if asbestos could be found there.

NParks said the asbestos on Ubin was detected at the end of last month, and works to remove the debris and decontaminate the sites were completed by last Friday.

But its discovery on Pulau Ubin shows that it is not just the islands south of Singapore that have been affected.

Debris containing asbestos has also been found on Sisters' Islands Marine Park, Pulau Hantu, St John's Island and Kusu Island.

NParks said the debris containing asbestos on Big Sister's Island, found washed ashore last month, has since been removed. Works to remove the debris in other areas are ongoing.

The two long-term residents on St John's Island have moved to the mainland.

The Straits Times understands the Pulau Ubin villagers did not have to move back as the asbestos was not found in residential areas.

Due to its links to health problems such as lung cancer, asbestos use in buildings was banned here in 1989, but many earlier structures still contain the substance.

When there is damage or disturbance to structures, asbestos fibres may be released into the air and inhaled.

Investigations are ongoing to determine the source of the asbestos debris.