Give access to probe, govt urged

JOHOR BARU: Pasir Gudang residents affected by last year’s Sungai Kim Kim pollution are seeking access to the reports and findings of the case.

They are urging the government to not only remain steadfast in their efforts to ensure such pollution does not occur again but to also allow public access to information related to the incident which affected more than 4,000 people and led to the closure of 111 schools in the area.

Restaurant owner Mohd Rafee Abdullah, 47, is among those who wanted to know about the progress of the investigation into the Sungai Kim Kim pollution.

“I tried to get updates from the local council but was told to go to the Department of Environment (DOE). This back and forth went on,” he claimed.

“I have given up looking for answers.”

He said he had been traumatised by the pollution, which caused his seven-year-old daughter to be hospitalised for four days.

“We were assured that the incident would never happen again but just three months later, we suffered the same problem,” he added.

Housewife Salina Hisham, 36, said there was still an odour coming from the river in the morning.

“It may not be because of any pollution but past experiences had made us afraid of any changes that happen around us.

“It will put my mind at ease if there were more information available,” she said.

State DOE director Mohd Famey Yusoff said they had gone all out to ensure such pollution would not happen again.

“We have been monitoring the factories and air quality in the district closely. Stern action was taken against those who failed to comply with the environmental regulations,” he said.

On March 7 last year, 35 people, mostly students, were hospitalised after breathing fumes from toxic chemicals dumped into Sungai Kim Kim. Two nearby schools were ordered to close.

Days later, the two schools reopened but another wave of pollution happened.

Thirteen schools had to stop classes.

Subsequently, all 111 schools in Pasir Gudang were told to shut down.

The government approved an emergency allocation of RM6.4mil for cleaning the river as well as financial aid for the affected families.

On March 24, two company directors and a lorry driver of a used tyre processing company were charged in court for chemical contamination of the river.

The case is ongoing.

Three months later, another case of chemical pollution hit Pasir Gudang.

It also led to the closure of schools and kindergartens.

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