The Selangor Department of the Environment (DOE) is investigating complaints of industrial pollution and irresponsible dumping of hazardous waste from an industrial plant in Jalan Haji Abdul Manan off Jalan Meru in north Klang.
State DOE director Siti Zaleha Ibrahim said the department had opened investigation papers on the case as the wanton dumping of hazardous chemicals is a serious issue.
“Our officers will collect samples for laboratory tests,” she said.
This investigation follows a report lodged by the Consumer Association of Klang.
Its president Devadass Anjan said the association received complaints that an aluminium industrial plant had been crushing aluminium dross in the open.
Aluminium dross is waste material formed during the aluminium melting process and poses a health risk to people and the environment.
“Chemicals from the aluminium dross are one of the worst toxic pollutants.
“Serious medical conditions could result including cancer.
“DOE must act speedily to stop such irresponsible practices that can harm people’s health,” added Devadass.
DOE’s Environmental Control officers Dasuki Loo and Nor Faizura Mohd Ali recorded the complaint in a closed-door meeting with Dass at their Shah Alam office in Section 9 earlier this week.
Devadass also provided samples of contaminated water and crumbs of aluminium dross obtained from the site.
“There was a strong ammonia smell in the area. I even noticed the water in the earth-cut drain was black. I saw several grey crumbs strewn outside the fence of the industrial plant. I believe its aluminium dross,” he said.
Devadass also said that some of the oil palm trees had turned brown.
“DOE must act with speed to take soil and water samples and even collect the crumbs.
“If it is true that the industrial plant is putting the aluminium dross into the ground to avoid sending it to a secured landfill, they should be punished severely as groundwater contamination is involved.”
“Our association wants DOE to make the findings of the investigation public,” he said.
Under the Environmental Quality Act 1974 (Amendments January 2006) Section 34B, the depositing or disposing of scheduled waste anywhere except at a prescribed landfill is prohibited.
Any person who contravenes this section shall be guilty of an offence and shall be liable to a fine not exceeding RM500,000 or to imprisonment for a period not exceeding five years or to both.
Farmers in the area claimed they had lodged complaints with the Klang Municipal Council’s (MPK) Environment Department in the past but no action was taken.
They had claimed the plant emitted clouds of white dust and a noxious smell while black liquid was discharged into the ditches in their farms.
A 5m brick wall separates the plant from the plantation.
Farmer Abdul Rashid Simon, 60, said the local authorities were not bothered about the fine dust which he said were affecting his oil palm and betel leaf plants.
He said the industrial plant manufactured aluminium alloy ingots used for electronic and automotive production.
Aluminium is used in the production of beverage cans, doors, aluminium foil, and production of aluminium ingots, car parts, engine and pistons.
“I once looked over the wall and saw silver-coloured rocks being smashed and levelled into the ground,” he said.
Yong Ching, who catches squirrels in the area, believes the silver-coloured clumps are aluminium dross.
“Each time it rains, chemicals from the aluminium dross seeps out from the walled area and emits a noxious smell,” he said.
Yong, 53, said he has complained to MPK of industrial pollution caused by the plant.
“A lot of dust is blown towards housing areas nearby too,” he added.
The dumping of hazardous waste in the area is not new.
In January 2006, some 400 tonnes of aluminium dross were found at several spots along Sungai Klang.
The culprits were identified as licensed waste recyclers.
Setia Alam resident Kee Kwong Yen, 45, said DOE needs to investigate as MPK has shown no inclination to do anything so far.
“DOE should visit the site and investigate the complaints,” he added.
Mechanical engineer C.C. Chin, 51, said the authorities including the Health Ministry should check on the health of the employees.
Chin added that if the material is found to be hazardous, it must be removed immediately.
“DOE must conduct tests to see if the groundwater has been contaminated too,” he said.