JOHOR BARU: The chemical pollution in the Kim Kim river is a wake-up call for the authorities to step up efforts to protect the state’s water sources against irresponsible and “sick” people.
Senior fellow at the Centre for Environmental Sustainability and Water Security of Universiti Teknologi Malaysia, Prof Dr Zulkifli Yusof, said that luckily Kim Kim was not a major river.
“If they had disposed of such toxic chemicals upstream, the chance of it ending up in our water source would have been high.
“A lot of people could have been affected,” he said, urging the government to come down hard on the culprits.
Prof Zulkifli said that in this case, the chemicals would eventually be washed downstream and into the sea.
“However, a lot of marine life and bio diversity will be destroyed along the way and it will take months for the river to recover,” he said.
Prof Zulkifli added that the authorities would need to ascertain if those who dumped the toxic waste into the river were merely ignorant or had other intentions.
It is learnt that among the possible pollutants in the river was benzene.
According to Chemicalsafetyfacts.org, benzene is primarily used as a feedstock or raw material to make other industrial chemicals, such as ethylbenzene, cumene and cyclohexane.Benzene is also used as a solvent in the chemical and pharmaceutical industries.
Excessive exposure to benzene can cause drowsiness, dizziness and unconsciousness while long-term exposure can affect the bone marrow and cause anaemia and leukaemia.Meanwhile, Johor Ruler Sultan Ibrahim Ibni Almarhum Sultan Iskandar wanted stern action on those responsible for the chemical pollution in Sg Kim Kim in Pasir Gudang.Sultan Ibrahim was enraged over the incident, which had caused hundreds of people, including students, to be hospitalised.
His Majesty wants the authorities to conduct a full-scale investigation to bring the culprits to book immediately. At the same time, he also expressed his appreciation and gratitude to all medical personnel attending to the victims.
“These are innocent schoolchildren, teachers and health workers.
“Don’t those responsible feel any remorse at the thought that children in the ICU are fighting for their lives?
“These are my rakyat and I will not let this matter go unanswered. I urge all government agencies to apprehend and punish the culprits immediately,” said His Majesty via his official Facebook page.
Sultan Ibrahim also advised the public, specifically residents in the affected area, to be extra vigilant and seek immediate treatment if they feel unwell.
“Schools also should not be opened until the situation is completely safe for students and teachers. I also urge residents to stay indoors as much as possible,” added His Majesty.