Woodlands Checkpoint power outage: ICA to deploy more generators during maintenance periods
A power failure at the checkpoint on Oct 9 caused delays with immigration clearance for several hours.
SINGAPORE: The Immigration & Checkpoints Authority (ICA) will be deploying additional generators as backups during future maintenance periods to avoid another power outage incident at the checkpoints, said Minister of State for Home Affairs Muhammad Faishal Ibrahim on Thursday (Oct 20) in Parliament.
These generators will complement a "secondary electrical infrastructure” that ICA had already planned to build to “further enhance power resiliency at Woodlands and Tuas Checkpoints” prior to the incident at Woodlands Checkpoint earlier this month which caused issues with immigration clearance for several hours.
On Oct 8 at around 11.40pm, ICA was conducting a scheduled maintenance of the power source at Woodlands Checkpoint. The timing was chosen as it is typically an off-peak period at the checkpoint, said Associate Professor Faishal.
As part of the maintenance, the backup power generator was activated to provide power.
But at around 12.20am on Oct 9, the backup power generator failed, resulting in a power outage that disrupted checkpoint operations.
Power was restored at around 4am and immigration clearance resumed at about 5.15am.
CAUSE OF THE POWER FAILURE
The backup power generator failed due to “a fresh tear in the air duct, causing hot air from the generator to be discharged into the room instead of outside the room”, said Assoc Prof Faishal.
“As the hot air re-circulated in the room, the generator engine overheated and shut down.”
The condition of the air duct is inspected visually and was assessed to be in good condition on the morning of Oct 8, he added.
Additionally, a full load test on the generator had been conducted in August.
On the morning of Oct 8, it had been "subjected to a 30-minute test-run and was working fine", he said.
"While the backup generator has been in operation since 1999, its usage is low. It is only operated when the building power source is undergoing maintenance or during a power failure. It is scheduled for replacement in 2028, according to the specifications.
“As a precautionary measure, ICA will consider if the air duct should be replaced periodically in the future, even if no tears are detected.”
During the power outage, there was no data breach or loss. The Uninterruptible Power Supply (UPS) system had kicked in as designed and “provided sufficient time for a proper shutdown of the servers, preventing any data breach or loss”, said Assoc Prof Faishal.
CONTINGENCY PLANS ACTIVATED
ICA has put in “additional layers of redundancy” to protect its operations from power disruptions. There are also backup generators for the main power source, said Assoc Prof Faishal.
“In addition, UPS is provided for key systems to ensure operations continuity if the backup generators fail. These systems are regularly upgraded during planned maintenance.”
For an extended power failure which UPS cannot support, ICA has standard operating procedures in place to ensure that operations continue, Assoc Prof Faishal added.
“This includes activating additional manpower to assist with manual clearance, communicating and advising travellers via multiple channels to avoid non-essential travel, and diverting traffic to the other land checkpoint.”
These contingency plans were activated during this incident.
In response to Assoc Prof Faishal, Member of Parliament Tan Wu Meng (PAP-Jurong) asked whether a red team analysis would be conducted on various vulnerabilities of key infrastructure - such as cyber, electrical supply and network cable connectivity risks.
"We will have the AAR (after action review) to be undertaken, and in fact, the risks that were highlighted ... are things that we look at as part of our business continuity plan. And in fact, in order to do that, agencies work with the critical infrastructure stakeholders," said Assoc Prof Faishal.
"And we do have monthly drills that not only look at issues of power outage. We look at issues that affect our security, incidents that may go beyond power outages."