NIBONG TEBAL: Residents near an oil palm estate in Bukit Tambun here have apparently been putting up with a foul smell that came from the burning of rubbish.
“Almost every night, I could see a glow from the fire burning in the estate. It had been going on for months.”
“When the wind blew in my direction, I could smell burning plastic,” claimed a 35-year-old engineer who wished to be known only as Aziz.
Aziz, who lives nearby, said: “One day, I got curious and rode a motorcycle into the estate. I was shocked to find a dumpsite.”
Yesterday, Bukit Tambun assemblyman Goh Choon Aik said many oil palm plantations have become hot spots for illegal dumping. “This is the biggest illegal dumpsite to be discovered here so far,” he said.
“We believe the illegal dumping had started over 10 years ago, but some of the rubbish thrown here seem quite recent.”
During an operation at the site yesterday, a truck was spotted coming in through a dirt path. But it quickly made a turn and drove away upon noticing the presence of the authorities. Piles of illegally dumped rubbish could be seen billowing in smoke.
Inside the 5,000sq m dumpsite, sacks of plastic bags and piles of construction debris were seen. There were also discarded items such as computer circuit boards, some of which were still burning and emitting smoke into the air.The dumping is believed to be the work of culprits who had trespassed into the land located about 200m from the North-South Expressway.
This despite both the front and back entrances having been sealed and warning signs placed there.
The offenders had cleared a narrow path among the shrubs to bypass a gate behind a seafood restaurant, some 50m away from the Tambun toll plaza.
Several workers from Seberang Prai Municipal Council (MPSP) also arrived at the site to take photos to be compiled for a report.
The land is owned by the Penang Development Corporation (PDC).
PDC was served with two notices yesterday for conducting illegal earthworks at the site and for causing a public nuisance, said MPSP president Datuk Rozali Mohamud.
“For the illegal earthworks, the landowner has been given 20 days to clear the site and rehabilitate it to its original condition.
“Otherwise, we can take legal action against the landowner under Section 70A of the Street, Drainage and Building Act, which carries a maximum fine of five years’ jail or a fine of up to RM500,000,” he said following an operation by the council’s taskforce at the site.
Rozali said investigators were assigned to conduct forensic examination on the rubbish to track their sources.
“We will collect addresses of companies found at the site and issue them showcause letters,” he said.
He said that it would not just be about punishing those caught disposing garbage at the site, but also that producers could be brought to court for failing to dispose of their waste.
“One-metre-wide culverts have also been dug at the entry points to prevent further trespassing,” he said.
In March, The Star reported about an illegal dumpsite of about 6.5ha in Bukit Teh near Machang Bubok which was an illegal sand quarry site years ago before it was turned into marshland.
Items such as discarded furniture, construction debris and food waste had filled up the waterlogged soil. There were also sacks of plastic pellets found on the site, which was located on private land.