Unending lessons from Sg Kim Kim disaster


JOHOR BARU: Five years after the Sungai Kim Kim toxic pollution case sickened thousands and forced over a hundred schools in Pasir Gudang to temporarily close, the incident continues to serve as an important lesson for the state.

Johor state exco member Ling Tian Soon said the incident showed how serious pollution could get and how it could significantly harm the public and environment.

“The government spent more than RM6mil to remove pollutants from the river. On top of that, public health was affected as many people were hospitalised.

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“This shows just how devastating pollution can be to both the people and the environment. This serves as an important lesson to take such issues seriously,” he said in an interview.

Ling, who holds the health and environment portfolio, said the incident sparked an important conversation about such issues and helped pave the way for amendments to the Environmental Quality Act 1974.

In March 2019, toxic pollution in Sungai Kim Kim resulted in more than 4,000 people falling ill and the temporary closure of 111 schools in Pasir Gudang.

In December last year, a lorry driver was fined RM100,000 for causing pollution through the illegal disposal of scheduled waste in Sungai Kim Kim.

The man, N. Maridass, was found to have released oil sludge into the river, which is scheduled waste listed in the First Schedule of the Environmental Quality (Scheduled Wastes) Regulations 2005.

P Tech Resources Sdn Bhd, which faced eight charges under the Environmental Quality (Clean Air) Regulations 2014, was fined RM40,000 for each charge, or a total of RM320,000.

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Ling said the fines meted out were not commensurate with the crime and its impact.

“The Johor government welcomes the move to amend the Act to increase penalties for those involved in environmental crimes, especially as the state has seen first-hand the impact of pollution.

“With the amendments, we hope to see those committing such irresponsible acts get heavier penalties, including a (mandatory) prison sentence,” he said.

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Sungai Kim Kim , Pollution , Environment , NGOs

   

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