79 health cases recorded in chemical dumping incident, clean-up in two days


JOHOR BARU: A total of 79 cases has been recorded by the Johor Health Department over the toxic fumes incident believed to have been caused by illegal dumping of chemical waste in Pasir Gudang.

State Health, Environment and Agriculture Committee chairman Dr Sahruddin Jamal said this was an increase of 31 cases since the incident occurred along Sungai Kim Kim on Thursday (March 7).

As of 9.30pm on Friday (March 8), some 79 cases had been reported with 47 people being admitted to Sultan Ismail Hospital and 32 others given outpatient treatment.

"Of the 47, 16 patients have been discharged, while 31 others are still warded, including six victims who are receiving breathing aid in ICU but in stable condition," he told reporters after officiating a gotong-royong programme at Taman Kota Masai, here on Saturday (March 9).

Dr Sahruddin added the department had urged residents living in the surrounding area to go to the nearest clinic if they experienced any symptoms of eye sore, chest pain or breathing difficulties.

"The location is currently being monitored by the Johor Baru District Disaster Relief Committee, and we are in the final phase of choosing a waste management contractor with experience in handling scheduled chemical waste.

"We expect the clean-up process to start in two days' time, covering 1.3km stretch of Sungai Kim Kim.

"Although the affected dumpsite has been cleaned up, we still need to secure the surrounding area," he said.

The case is being investigated under Section 34B of the Environmental Quality Act, which carries a fine of not more than RM500,000, or up to five years' jail, upon conviction.