Malaysia's waterbomber ready for Sumatra mission as haze worsens

Today Online 22 Aug 16;

PETALING JAYA (Malaysia) — As the haze continued to worsen air quality in the Klang Valley, the government said on Sunday (Aug 21) that it was prepared to deploy its firefighting aerial waterbomber to assist Indonesian authorities tackle forest fires there.

“We are prepared to send our Bombardier aircraft to Sumatra to help put out the forest fires that have been responsible for the cross-border haze,” Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Dr Shahidan Kassim said.

He said the National Security Council was in a state of full preparedness to assist in the operation.

“We did the same last year. This year, we are just waiting for the request (from Indonesia),” he said.

Dr Shahidan said the use of the Bombardier aircraft was more efficient as it was able to deliver massive quantities of water to suppress forest fires, and Malaysia was the only country in Asia to have the aircraft.

Deploying the Canadian manufactured firefighting plane would be an added assistance to Indonesian air force aircraft and Bell 412 helicopter presently involved in waterbombing exercises.

Air quality in the Klang Valley deteriorated slightly on Sunday with several areas recording “moderate” Air Pollutant Index (API) levels.

The Department of Environment’s API reading for Shah Alam rose from 71 at noon to 86 at 3pm.

Other areas which showed moderate API readings at 3pm were Cheras and Batu Muda (77), Petaling Jaya (61) and Klang (69).

According to Malaysia's Department of Environment, an API reading of between zero and 50 indicates good air quality; between 51 and 100, moderate; between 101 and 200, unhealthy; between 201 and 300, very unhealthy; and more than 301, hazardous.

The Malaysian Meteorological Department said on its website visibility in Petaling Jaya was 6km at 3pm.

Malacca was worst hit when visibility was recorded at 1km at 8am before improving to 4km at 3pm.

The lower visibility was attributed to forest fires in Kalimantan and Sumatra.

According to the Indonesian National Institute of Aerospace, 167 hotspots were detected on Saturday, with 154 in Kalimantan and 13 in Sumatra. THE MALAY MAIL ONLINE

Over 2,000 cases of open burning since January
The Star 22 Aug 16;

PETALING JAYA: There have been more than 2,000 cases of open burning nationwide from January till last Saturday.

Natural Resources and Envi­ron­ment Minister Datuk Seri Dr Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar said a total of 2,262 cases of open burning had been detected by the Department of Environment (DOE).

Most of the cases, said Dr Wan Junaidi, involved forests (300 cases), bushes (515), construction sites (48), landfill sites (70), industrial areas (15), agricultural land (589) and other small open burning cases (725).

He said the DOE was monitoring the air quality nationwide.

“Hotspots in Sumatra and Kali­mantan, Indonesia, that are still active can cause transboundary haze to reach the west coast of Pe­­ninsular Malaysia and Sarawak,” said Dr Wan Junaidi in a statement yesterday.

The DOE, he said, had increased preventive efforts on open burning activities.

One of the measures taken is activating the Open Burning Prevention Action Plan since Jan 12 that includes land surveillance and enforcement on areas identified, court action and issuance of compounds.

Other measures include monitoring of areas that can catch fire easily and aerial surveillance to prevent burning in forest and rural areas.

Dr Wan Junaidi said the DOE had issued compounds, amounting to RM233,566, for 208 cases from January till August.

As of 5pm yesterday the Air Pollution Index reading in most ci­ties across the country were “healthy” and “moderate”.

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