Malaysia: Central Sumatra hotspots cause of transboundary haze

The Star 16 Aug 16;

KLANG: The Klang Valley is being hit by encroaching haze believed to be caused by an increase in the number of hotspots in Central Sumatra over the weekend.

Selangor executive councillor for environment Elizabeth Wong said that “the haze experienced in the Klang Balley is transboundary haze after an exponential increase of hotspots in Central Sumatra since the weekend.

In addition to this Wong cautioned locals against adding to the problems by starting peat fires.

Wong said the local authorities had discovered the fire which had been started on vegetable plots in the area Tuesday morning.

"No suspects were found and follow- up action is being initiated," said Wong when contacted.

She added the Klang Municipal Council (MPK) quick response team, the Pantas Squad, had been constantly monitoring the peat areas and helping the Fire and Rescue Department at the Kesas Highway, Jalan Kebun and Johan Setia.

"They have been instructed to intensify their rounds since July 2016," said Wong.

She explained most of the fires in the areas were small and had been fully extinguished by the Fire and Rescue Department and MPK.

"This time it is relatively easier to do so with the state government using a product called PeatFirex (a non-chemical based product to suppress peat fires) which is specific to peat soil," she said.

According to Wong, besides people starting the fires on purpose, the dry weather was also a factor behind the peat fires in the area.

"If the ground is dry for long periods of time then even a smouldering cigarette can ignite," said Wong adding this is how the roadside fires are started.

She said on the part of the Selangor state government, a central command coordination team has been parked under the state secretary's office to monitor all peat fires.

Wong urged members of the public who sight fires to immediately inform the Fire and Rescue Department.

"If you see any neighbours burning leaves or branches please advise them to stop doing so.

"If they refuse please report to your respective local councils," said Wong.

Time to brace for haze again

PETALING JAYA: Malaysians have been waking up to haze for the past few days and are fearing more of the bad stuff after the air quality took a dip in many places.

With August proving a bad month for the phenomenon over the last three years, many Malaysians are bracing for a hit to their lifestyles and health.

Yesterday, the Air Pollutant Index (API) recorded 28 areas with moderate reading.

As at 6pm, two areas – Kampung Air Putih in Taiping and Kemaman – reached 71 and 70 on the index respectively.

The API reading for good air quality is below 50 while moderate is between 51 and 100.

The air quality is considered unhealthy if the reading is between 101 and 200.

Five more places reached a reading of 60 or more – Banting (65), Bukit Rambai (64), Nilai (61), Port Klang (60) and Shah Alam (60).

According to the Asean Specialised Meteorological Centre (ASMC), there are four hotspots in Malaysia since the dry season started last month, compared with 49 in Kalimantan and 32 in Sumatra.

Science, Technology and Innovation Minister Datuk Seri Madius Tangau had said that Malaysians should brace for drier weather and haze.

“We are now experiencing the southwest monsoon that started in May and it will last until mid-September.

“At this time, the atmospheric conditions throughout the country will be drier with less rain. As a result, haze associated with burning activities is expected to occur,” Tangau said on July 31.

On Monday, Indonesia’s Meteorology, Climatology and Geophysics Agency in Pekanbaru, Riau, warned of recurring haze unless stakeholders took tougher measures to immediately extinguish land fires affecting several areas across the province, the Jakarta Post reported.

The agency’s Pekanbaru head Sugarin said there was a possibility of haze problems similar to previous years returning and affecting Indonesia’s neighbours.

Last year, Malaysia was hit with the worst haze so far, resulting in schools being closed.

The unprecedented severity of the haze also affected millions in Indonesia, Singapore, Thailand, the southern part of the Philippines and the northern part of Laos.

“Currently, the wind tends to blow to the southeast. If haze occurs, there is a significant chance it will be brought by the wind to our neighbouring countries,” Sugarin said.

“In total, 92 hotspots were detected in Riau this morning, 84 of which were in coastal areas with a significant amount of peatland,” he said.

Shah Alam folks report haze smell
DAWN CHAN New Straits Times 16 Aug 16;

SHAH ALAM: City dwellers here woke up to the unexpected haze enveloping the skies this morning.

The Department of Environment Malaysia website, however, showed only moderate levels of the Air Pollutant Index (API) of between 51 and 100.

As of 2pm, the API was the highest in Petaling Jaya at 79, Banting at 70, 68 at Port Klang, 67 in Shah Alam and 57 in Kuala Selangor.

Housewife Salina Shahbuddin however hoped the weather condition would improved by the end of the day.

"It is not that bad now but I have chosen to close all my windows and the sliding doors this morning and afternoon as there is a slight burning smell," said the 42-year-old from Section 13, here.

The mother of three said she would consider not allowing her children out for their daily evening football games today unless the haze goes away by then.

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