No respite for dumping ground

Meadow of mess: The illegal dumpsite in Bukit Teh near Machang Bubuk in Bukit Mertajam, Penang.

BUKIT MERTAJAM: Illegal dumping at a marshland in Bukit Teh near Machang Bubok here is still going on despite the landowners being slapped with several notices to stop all illegal dumping activities and rehabilitate the land.

New mounds of discarded furniture, plastic waste, construction debris and planks were found on the 6.5ha dumpsite while existing waste such as sacks of agricultural waste on the marshland remain uncleared.

Goh Seng Huat, 62, a caretaker of a chicken farm beside the dumpsite, claimed to see two trucks entering the land – the first last week and the second three days ago – to unload the waste when local council enforcers were not around.

“Enforcers drop by now and then to check the place, but they cannot be here all the time.

“The first truck was loaded with all kinds of waste and the second one dumped planks and wooden beams. Both times, they waited until the enforcers left.

“I never saw anybody coming in to the clear the waste since authorities came last month,” he said yesterday.

A check by The Star yesterday also showed that the wooden palette processing factory within the illegal dumpsite was still operating despite not obtaining a licence from Seberang Prai Municipal Council (MPSP).

Two MPSP enforcers met outside the factory said they had issued shutdown notices and summoned the factory owner.

In March, The Star exposed this illegal dumpsite, which was an illegal sand quarry site years ago before it turned into a marshland.

Besides plastic waste, items such as discarded furniture, construction debris and food waste have filled up the waterlogged soil.

Bales of shredded plastic almost two storeys high remain piled up at one corner of the land.

There were also hundreds of sacks of plastic pellets, piled up high.

Penang Environment Committee chairman Phee Boon Poh said a special committee headed by him was formed to investigate whether a syndicate was involved.

“We need to conduct an in-depth investigation because some of the agricultural and food waste came in large containers.

“This is not the place for them to dispose spoilt food or unwanted waste.

“The only dumpsite on mainland Penang is at Pulau Burung in Nibong Tebal and there is still 120ha of space left there,” he said.

Phee added that the state received an application for the site to be turned into a resource centre for construction waste processing but had yet to obtain the Environment Impact Assessment (EIA), Social Impact Assessment (SIA) and Traffic Impact Assessment (TIA) reports.

“The resource centre will be a proper facility with machines and crushers to process construction and demolition waste.

“At present, we only have one of such facility in Batu Kawan,” he said.

Meanwhile, laboratory tests on chemicals illegally dumped in an oil palm estate about 100m from the dumpsite found that it was spent mineral oil and investigations are ongoing to determine its source.

Penang Department of Environment director Marzuki Mokhatar said although the chemicals were not hazardous or toxic, they pollute the environment.

“Investigations are still ongoing and the landowner responsible has been cooperative,” he said.


Across The Star Online