With a land area of about 725 km², Singapore is a small island state with an average population density of about 7,800 people per square kilometre. Such a high population density makes it imperative for hazardous substances to be controlled so that public exposure to accidental release is, if not avoided, minimised.
Large parts of Singapore are also used as water catchment areas, which makes it necessary to ensure that chemical storage facilities and transport are located from such areas as far as possible. This is to prevent pollution and to protect drinking water sources against contamination.
The awareness of the hazards or risks posed to both human health and the environment from the manufacturing, storage, transport, and use of hazardous chemicals has come about in recent years after several reported major industrial accidents in both developed and the developing countries.
Two well-known catastrophic incidents occurred in the mid 1980s in the less developed countries. These were the release of toxic methyl isocyanate from a pesticide factory in Bhopal, India and the explosions and fires at an LPG installation in Mexico. Both incidents caused great losses of lives.
Singapore has implemented measures to control and minimise the risks from industrial developments handling large quantities of hazardous substances not only to protect workers within the hazardous plants but also the public and the environment.
NEA’s Chemical Control and Management Control Department (CCMD) controls toxic and environmentally hazardous chemicals under The Environmental Protection and Management Act (EPMA) and The Environmental Protection and Management (Hazardous Substances) Regulations.
Flammable petroleum products in Singapore are controlled under the Fire Safety Act by the Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF). Radioactive substances are controlled by the Radiation Protection and Nuclear Science Division (RPNSD) of NEA.