Worried sick over strange odour

Raven (left) visiting a factory in Kampung Sungai Tiram, Johor Baru to check on the source of the odour.

KAMPUNG Sungai Tiram residents in Johor Baru are worried that a strange odour which has caused 39 people to experience dizzy spells and nausea could be another Sungai Kim Kim pollution incident.

Mohd Rahmat Katni, who operates a santan stall near SK Sungai Tiram, said he first detected the odour at around 2pm on Aug 1.

“At first I thought it came from a leaking septic tank nearby but later, I also smelled chemicals.

“Shortly after that, I began feeling dizzy and told my wife to go home as I was worried about her health,” he said.

Another resident Roslan Ibrahim, said it was the first time he had smelled such an odour after living in the area for more than 40 years.

“The odour was quite strong. Despite putting on a face mask, I could still smell it.

“I felt nauseous and had a sore throat.”

He hoped it would not be another serious chemical pollution incident like what happened in Sungai Kim Kim, Pasir Gudang.

In March 2019, a total of 2,775 people, mostly schoolchildren, were taken to hospital, and 110 schools near the river were forced to close due to illegal waste dumping into the river.

On Aug 1, 23 pupils, two teachers, a school clerk and two canteen workers from SK Sungai Tiram and Sekolah Agama Sungai Tiram suffered dizzy spells and vomiting after smelling the odour at around 3pm.

Self-employed Noor Ain Hamdan, said her son Muhammad Fattah Azran, a pupil of SK Sungai Tiram, fell sick that day.

“After the incident, the children were told to evacuate.

“When my nine-year-old son reached home, he complained of a headache.

Johor DOE staff collecting water samples for testing.Johor DOE staff collecting water samples for testing.

“He did not go to school the following day as it was closed temporarily as a safety measure. Lessons resumed on Aug 3,” she said, adding that while Muhammad Fattah had recovered, she was still worried about his condition.

Checks by StarMetro found that there was no foul smell in the area after it rained from morning on Aug 3.

Shops were operating as usual and parents were seen picking up their children after school in the evening.

State tourism, environment, heritage, and culture committee chairman K. Raven Kumar said Johor Environment Department (DOE) inspected six factories, including an illegal one, in the area, and collected samples.

“Initial tests showed no abnormalities in the air and water quality.

“We are still trying to find the source of the foul smell and alleged pollution.

“The DOE will collect more samples for tests,” he said, adding that Pasir Gudang City Council has ordered the illegal factory to cease operations.

Raven also said that after receiving an emergency call, Health Ministry officials went to the schools to provide medical treatment while the Fire and Rescue Department, DOE and related agencies began their investigations.

“The next day, the ministry conducted a door-to-door survey to identify other victims.

“They found 11 residents with symptoms including sore eyes, sore throat, headache and nausea, bringing the total number of victims to 39 so far,” he said, adding that none of them required hospitalisation.

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