Environment Dept declares village safe following chemical spill

JOHOR BARU: The Johor Environment Department (DOE) has deemed the situation in Kampung Baru Sri Aman in Kempas safe following a chemical pollution incident on Tuesday (Sept 14) night.

Its director Dr Mohd Famey Yusoff said his team conducted tests and managed to identify three particles in the air.

"Our findings showed that the particles in the air stood at non-dangerous levels of 0.6 to 1 parts per million (PPM).

"However, we will continue monitoring the situation for at least another 24 hours to ensure it is safe," he told reporters at the site on Wednesday (Sept 15).

He said the collected samples would be sent to the Chemistry Department for detailed analysis.

He added that the DOE also identified several factories near the village suspected of illegally dumping hazardous materials into the river

Meanwhile, Johor Fire and Rescue Department director Datuk Yahaya Madis said preliminary tests were carried out.

"We have run tests to identify the diesel-like substance found in a stream at the village and found methyl alcohol, which produces methanol after coming in contact with water. This also caused fish in the stream to die.

"Firefighters and the hazardous materials (hazmat) unit have put up an oil boom to prevent the substance from spreading further down Sungai Tawakal and Sungai Pandan.

"We managed to contain the spread as the situation beyond 1km was good and there were no dead fish found," he said at the scene.

Johor police chief Datuk Ayob Khan Mydin Pitchay said four local men, including a factory owner, were arrested at around 11.30am on Wednesday.

"They have been arrested on suspicion of being involved in illegal dumping of chemical waste under the Environmental Quality Act," he said without elaborating further as investigations are ongoing.

Four women, aged 22 to 49 years old, were sent to the hospital for medical attention after experiencing breathing difficulties and nausea on Tuesday night and early Wednesday morning.

More than 120 residents from 36 families were told to evacuate to the village multi-purpose hall and surau while the Fire and Rescue Department and DOE conducted their investigations.

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