BUKIT MERTAJAM: For about 10 years now, the villagers of Kampung Sungai Lembu have been forced to breathe air laden with pollutants. Children going to school at SJK(C) Kampung Sungai Lembu also have had to put up with the thick dust.
The air is thick with a burning smell from the processing activities at an illegal carbon filter processing factory, just 1km away from the school.
The 5,000sq-m factory, about the size of a football field, has piles upon piles of sawdust, much of it burning in deep pits.
The tall chimneys spout white pollutant-filled smoke into the air which is carried to the nearby villages by the slight breeze.
A source from the Department of Environment revealed that the factory also did not have an air pollution control system.
Kampung Sungai Lembu Development and Security Committee chairman Tan Sing Lee, 58, said the factory also carried out open burning of sawdust to produce carbon.
“Every time the wind blows our way especially in December, the air is polluted. At night, the air is foggy and villagers complain about the smell,” he said.
“We reported the matter to Penanti assemblyman Dr Norlela Ariffin but no action was taken in the past two years,” he said.
The factory is also situated inside an oil palm estate, on land designated for agriculture.
Tan claimed a man in his 30s died in 2015 after he fell into one of the pits while filling it with sawdust.
A check by The Star at the factory yesterday found 20 pits, each measuring about 3m across. The pits were filled with burning sawdust and there was smoke everywhere. The sawdust is burnt to produce carbon which is then used in filters.
Permatang Pauh Umno chief Datuk Mohd Zaidi Mohd Said claimed there may have been people involved in covering up the issue before the raid on the factory by the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) on Thursday.
“Several reports have been lodged against the factory.
It is impossible for the Seberang Prai Municipal Council to not be aware of it,” he said during a press conference in Kampung Sungai Lembu.
Also present was Parti Cinta Malaysia deputy president Datuk Huan Cheng Guan.