KUALA LUMPUR: The operation to clean Sungai Kim Kim will cost the authorities more than RM10mil, says Yeo Bee Yin.
The Energy, Technology, Science, Climate Change and Environment Minister said the cost of removing the toxic pollution in the 1.5km stretch of the river cost RM6.4mil.
"It is RM6.4mil for the clean-up alone. This does not include the movement of the officials and all that," she said at a press conference at the inaugural Malaysian Industrial Development Berhad (MIDF) Green Conference yesterday.
It was previously reported that the clean-up operation for Sungai Kim Kim included 900 tonnes of soil and 1,500 tonnes of polluted water.
There are another 46 newly-identified dumping grounds in Pasir Gudang that will also be cleaned up.
Yeo said the Sungai Kim Kim toxic waste dumping incident was a wake-up call for enforcement and environmental laws to be strengthened.
She said the ministry was working with the Attorney General to make the culprit pay for the clean-up costs.
"The AG's Chambers is still looking at how to make this (happen) due to current limitations of the existing law," she said.
"That is why we need to review the law. I want to make people who can pay (for polluting the environment) to pay for it," she added.
Yeo said the government was now looking at introducing a new law to compel environmental polluters to pay for clean-up costs.
"The Malaysian Bar says the person who pollutes can pay – but if the culprit is a lorry driver, for example, how are you going to force them to pay RM6.4mil? They will be declared bankrupt and the government will still have to pay for the mess," she said.
She stressed that strong enforcement is important to prevent pollution.
In 2018, the government only issued about RM2.5mil in fines from 159 court cases and issued 2,200 compounds, she said.
Yeo said that while the Environmental Quality Act was already being reviewed, the Sungai Kim Kim incident would speed up the tabling of the law in Parliament.
"Sungai Kim Kim is a wake-up call for us on how to take care of our environment, and for the government to strengthen enforcement and environmental law, and for the public to report suspicious activities," she added.
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