IN A turnabout, Sepang Municipal Council (MPSepang) has rescinded the temporary licence of a plastic processing factory in Sepang, Selangor.
MPSepang deputy president Muhammad Hafiz Shaari said the council decided to revoke the licence after its councillors unanimously agreed the factory must be shut down to send a strong message against environmental pollution.
“MPSepang issued a six-month licence to the factory upon a request from Environment Department (DOE).
“We had shut down the factory twice before, once in July last year and again two months ago.
“Following the second enforcement action, the illegal factory’s operator applied to DOE to be legalised.
“DOE then requested MPSepang to give a temporary licence to enable the factory to prepare an environmental impact assessment report, which is a requirement for a full licence,” said Hafiz.
He said the temporary licence was issued in April.
“We conducted checks weekly and found the operations were not environment-friendly.
“The operator did not comply with the planning permission and we received many complaints from surrounding residents.
“The activity also runs against government policy of not importing plastic waste for recycling. So the factory will be shut down.
“However, we have to give them time to wind down their operations because of the temporary licence,” he added.
Residents in Sepang were livid that the local council had allowed a plastic processing factory to continue operations despite their objections.
Residents from the neighbouring villages – Kampung Baru Sepang, Kampung Sungai Keroh Batu 1, Kampung Tanjung Mas Batu 2, Kampung Jelutong Indah Batu 4 and Kampung Baru Sungai Pelek – held a peaceful demonstration in front of the factory’s gates.
Sepang and Sungai Pelek Federation of Temple Associations and Organisations chairman Joshua Tee said the factory had been operating illegally for a year before residents found out from its workers that it was processing plastic.
“We sought help from Sungai Pelek assemblyman Ronnie Liu to forward our complaints to MPSepang.
“Much to our relief, authorities closed the factory down in March,” said Tee.
But not long after, residents started to hear machinery noises coming from the factory at night.
“When we checked with authorities, we found out that the local council had given the factory a temporary licence,” said former MPSepang councillor Henry Tong.
Villagers then handed a memorandum of protest to MPSepang.
They highlighted Selangor Mentri Besar Amirudin Shari’s statement that processing of imported plastic waste would not be allowed in Selangor.
The villagers said they also made a search of the company’s name and discovered that the factory was previously shut down for operating illegally in Pulau Indah, Klang, last August.
Meanwhile, Kampung Tanjung Mas Batu 2 resident Nor Hayati Abdul Kadir said she had to suffer the reek of fumes coming from the factory every night.
“My house is just behind the factory so the smell is very strong. We fear for our health,” she said.
Kampung India Batu 2 chief Raman Raju said fumes from the factory could be detected up to a seven-kilometre radius.
He said villagers had come to him complaining of breathing problems and itchy skin.
“We do not want the plastic processing factory here.
“If they can start operations without EIA certification, I have little confidence they will follow procedure in the long run, ” said Raman.
MPSepang Corporate Unit and Public Relations director Norrehan Amat Kasman said the council had issued a re-operative permit to the plastic processing factory following a technical review by Kuala Lumpur DOE citing that the plant had built and installed air pollution control equipment and effluent treatment systems as required by Environmental Act 1974.
He said a temporary licence was granted but the plant would only be allowed to operate after DOE approves the EIA report’s findings.
Liu hopes MPSepang will cease issuing licenses to companies involved in processing foreign plastic waste.
He revealed that the villagers had lodged a report with Malaysian Anti-Corruption Agency on the matter.