BUKIT MERTAJAM: Three landowners of an illegal dumpsite in Machang Bubok here have each been slapped with a notice by the Seberang Prai Municipal Council (MPSP).
With the issuance of the notices, they are to stop all illegal dumping activities, remove all machinery and rehabilitate the land at the site within 20 days.
This was according to Machang Bubok assemblyman Lee Khai Loon, who visited the dumpsite yesterday.
Lee said the area, which measures over 6ha, was divided into three plots of land according to MPSP’s plan.
“They (landowners) cannot deny by saying that they don’t know of such illegal dumping. It is their land and they are responsible to look after it,” he said.
Lee also urged the Department of Environment (DoE) to collect samples from the site and conduct tests to determine if the content there was hazardous.
“Hopefully, CCTVs can be installed and a guard booth erected at the entrance for 24-hour monitoring to prevent trespassing,” he said.
Checks at the site found that there were two abandoned trucks laden with bags of powdery substance.
Goh Seng Huat, 62, a caretaker of a chicken farm located beside the dumpsite, claimed that the dumping activities started about 10 years ago.
“The dumpsite used to be an illegal sand mining site, and the dumping of waste had already started before authorities shut down the quarry.
“It started as a small dumping ground, which slowly grew in size.
“Over the years, it grew massive with over 100 trucks of all sizes coming in daily to dispose of all kinds of waste.
“We have lodged several complaints since middle of last year but to no avail,” he claimed.
On Tuesday, The Star saw mounds of shredded plastic almost two-storeys high.
Excavators and forklifts were at work unloading more of such waste from trucks.
It is believed that the marshland was an illegal sand quarry that had been shut down many years ago.
Besides plastic waste, items such as discarded furniture and construction debris have filled up the pools of water there.
In one corner of the dumpsite, thick black smoke could be seen billowing into the air from open burning of waste.
The illegal plastic dumpsite is about 100m from the oil palm estate where several barrels of waste chemicals were discovered by the authorities last week.
At a separate press conference, Chief Minister Chow Kon Yeow said action would be taken against recycling centres or dumpsites that were operating illegally.
Chow said Penang Environment Committee chairman Phee Boon Poh had been monitoring the situation very closely.
“In fact, he brought Housing and Local Government Minister Zuraida Kamaruddin to visit a few plastic recycling factories to better understand the problem.
“If they choose to operate illegally without any licence, I am sure enforcement action will be taken,” he said after the launch of the Business Events Penang 2018 annual review at a hotel.
Chow said the local authorities were stepping up on monitoring efforts.
“Attempts by the local authorities to close down certain dumpsites have been met with legal suits.
“Some operators have challenged the local council when they were issued summons,” he said.
Chow said they however could not stop genuine operators from applying for a licence and converting their land into industrial land as long as they operated according to the law.