JOHOR BARU: It has been almost five years since the Sungai Kim Kim pollution incident, yet some victims are still struggling with health issues brought on by exposure to toxic chemicals.
Some victims are urging the government to reassess the penalties imposed on those accountable for the contamination, saying that the punishment meted out is insufficient in light of the considerable suffering they are experiencing.
One of the victims, Irfan Wafiy Idham Wazir, 16, now needs to use crutches after he was diagnosed with Myokymia, a condition which causes body tremors.
When contacted by Bernama, his mother Norlela Abu Hashim, 50, said the government should enhance environmental laws and impose heavier fines to deter future pollution offenders.
"The penalty must match the severity of the offence. A meagre fine implies that the well-being of the affected children has little value.
"Five years have elapsed since the incident but he still has to rely on crutches as he strives to make a full recovery," said the mother of five.
She said Irfan Wafiy, her fourth child, possesses a strong fighting spirit and still requires physical therapy to strengthen his legs.
However, Norlela expressed gratitude to the Environment Department for handling the case and ensuring those responsible were proven guilty.
Meanwhile, Mohd Rafee Abdullah, 51, said the his 11-year-old daughter, Nur Akma Darisha Sofea, continues to suffer from respiratory issues.
He said aside from imposing penalties on the culprits, it was crucial to acknowledge the profound need for medical assistance for victims.
"My daughter still undergoes follow-up treatment with a pulmonologist. Her attendance at school is erratic and depends on her health. I hope the government will provide medical assistance to alleviate the challenges we face." he said.
The chemical waste pollution incident which unfolded on March 7, 2019, was due to illegal dumping of toxic waste into Sungai Kim Kim and affected the health of over 2,000 people and forced the temporary closure of 111 schools in Pasir Gudang.
In a statement on Saturday (Dec 2), the Environment Department said that a lorry driver was fined RM100,000 by the Johor Baru Sessions Court on Nov 30 for causing pollution by the illegal disposal of scheduled waste into Sungai Kim Kim in Pasir Gudang, Johor in 2019.
Meanwhile, P Tech Resources Sdn Bhd, which faced eight charges under the Environmental Quality (Clean Air) Regulations 2014, was also fined RM40,000 for each charge for a total fine of RM320,000. – Bernama