Warning to factories


Officers from the Chemistry Department inspecting the air quality around Jalan Platinum, Kampung Pasir Gudang Baru on June 27. ABDUL RAHMAN EMBONG/The Star

PASIR GUDANG: The authorities are coming down hard on polluters in Johor and has taken action against 38 factories here for offences under the Environmental Quality Act 1974.

State health, culture and heritage committee chairman Mohd Khuzzan Abu Bakar said the Department of Environment (DOE) had issued 37 compounds, three notices and three warnings to cease operations to the companies in the district.

“The police will also continue conducting 24-hour roadblocks at the identified entry and exit access to Pasir Gudang,” he said in a press conference here at Menara Aqabah.

Khuzzan said the DOE had issued 37 compounds, three notices and three warnings to cease operations to the companies in the district.

Khuzzan said the DOE had issued 37 compounds, three notices and three warnings to cease operations to the companies in the district.

Pasir Gudang has been hit by a second wave of toxic air pollution after 15 students from Sekolah Agama Taman Mawar here fell ill on June 20 due to possible exposure to poisonous gas.

Following this, several more schools were affected, resulting in the three-day closure of 475 education institutions in Pasir Gudang - 111 primary and secondary schools, three higher education institutions, 14 private and international schools and 347 private kindergartens registered with the state Education Department.

To-date, more than 100 students from over 30 schools have been affected by the latest incident.

Khuzzan said that no new patients had been admitted to the hospital as of noon on Thursday.

“At the moment there are still four patients between the ages of 13 and 17 years old receiving treatment at the hospital,” he said.

He added that he would announce today whether or not all educational institutions in the area would remain closed.

The authorities have come under increasing flak for their seeming inability to draw a line under the toxic pollution problem in Pasir Gudang.

Johor Ruler Sultan Ibrahim Sultan Iskandar has described the second case of chemical pollution in Pasir Gudang district as “despicable and a total disgrace” and taken state and federal agencies to task over the matter.

In an interview with The Star, he said he would be summoning the leaders of state and federal bodies to answer for these incidents, which took place in the state in the same area within a couple of months.

“We were assured that all was alright and we heard the politicians and officials issuing assurances but barely three months later, the people of Johor are faced with this issue again,” he said. “This is despicable and a total disgrace.”

This is the second time in three months that the authorities have ordered all schools in Pasir Gudang district to be closed due to pollution.

In March, all 111 primary and secondary schools were ordered to close because of toxic fumes coming from Sungai Kim Kim, and some 4,000 people had to seek treatment.

Four individuals, including two Singaporeans, have been charged in the Sessions Court for their alleged involvement in the case. Three of them are directors of a used tyre processing company and the other is a lorry driver.

On another matter, Khuzzan said checks on suspicious-looking barrels found near a village near here as well as greenish liquid found at another location revealed no harmful chemicals.

“A check on the barrels found at Kampung Desa Melayu near Sungai Tebrau found that all the barrels were empty.

“Meanwhile, the liquid was found to be from the cleaning process of a tank nearby that had turned green with the growth of moss,” he said.

On Wednesday, people from a village in Pasir Gudang reported the discovery of suspicious-looking barrels to the authorities.

Residents of another housing area later also discovered greenish liquid in the drains near their houses.


   

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