Malaysia: ‘Harsh penalties for river polluters’

NICHOLAS CHENG The Star 31 Oct 16;

KUALA LUMPUR: The Federal Government is considering enlisting the Special Branch to track down those responsible for the contamination in Sungai Buah, which cut off water supply to millions in the Klang Valley.

Natural Resources and Environment Minister Datuk Seri Dr Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar also called for a review of water treatment plant procedures so that odour could be detected faster and future shutdowns prevented.

At one of the chemical dump sites in Dengkil, repair works are continuing on a 20m bund holding the contaminants in Sungai Buah from flowing into Sungai Semenyih. Three more bunds are being built along the river.

Dr Wan Junaidi said the water in Sungai Buah was being treated with activated carbon, which bound the contaminants to the surface of the river.

“My ministry and the Department of Environment (DOE) are working with the Selangor government in an in-depth investigation to find the source of this pollution and the people responsible for it.

“I give the assurance that harsh punishment will befall individuals or companies that have so carelessly affected the welfare of the public.

“I am not ruling out asking the help of the Special Branch to track down those responsible and bring them to justice,” he said in a statement here yesterday.

Dr Wan Junaidi also called for a review of the standard operating procedure in the state’s treatment plants, which so far did not include odour detection in their parameters.

“Only Pengurusan Air Selangor (Air Selangor) and the Health Ministry monitor odour in raw water. The DOE also doesn’t include odour in its parameters under the National Water Quality Standard.

“We will have to immediately review these odour sampling methods and see whether the procedure used by Air Selangor is the way forward or if it should be changed,” he said.

The contaminant, which has been identified as 4-bromodiphenyl ether, is used as a fire retardant and is so corrosive that it has charred swathes of grass on the banks of Sungai Buah.

The minister also called for the cooperation of the Elite Highway operator to report any accident that involved chemical spillage that could flow into the river nearby, so that the DOE would be able to immediately monitor clean-up works.

Selangor exco member Elizabeth Wong continued to accuse Negri Sembilan of being uncooperative in helping to treat polluted water on its side.

Activated charcoal in the state, she said, was almost running out, with 10 tonnes already being used in Sungai Buah.

“We want Negri Sembilan to treat the site so that the polluted water does not flow into Sungai Buah,” she said, adding that if this was not done, Selangor might be forced to buy more activated carbon.

As of 4pm yesterday, Syabas announced that water supply in all areas affected by the shutdown was almost fully restored, leaving only Hulu Langat and Kuala Langat.


Review of SOPs urged for water treatment plant operators in wake of Semenyih pollution
FAIRUZ MOHD SHAHAR New Straits Times 30 Oct 16;

PUTRAJAYA: The Natural Resources and Environment Ministry is recommending that water treatment plant operators review their standard operating procedures (SOPs) to be able to identify types of odours emitted from water.

Its minister Datuk Seri Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar said this is to enable them to swiftly shut down operations when necessary to ensure that consumers are not exposed to contamination.

"So far, only the Selangor Water Management Authority (Luas) monitors the odour parameter, although this is not required in raw water supply monitoring by the Health Ministry.

"The Environment Department (DOE) also does not have the odour parameter under the National Water Quality Standard for river water.

"(So) our integrated team will immediately re-assess the odour sampling methods implemented by Luas to check whether it complies with the recommended standards," Wan Junaidi said in a statement today.

He was commenting on the odour pollution crisis in Sungai Buah in Nilai, Negri Sembilan, which affected the Sungai Semenyih Water Treatment Plant, forcing it to be shut down.

The closure of the plant had affected some 1.6 million Selangor residents.

Wan Junaidi said the ministry has taken several measures to resolve the problem, aided by a joint task force from the DOE, Luas, the federal and Selangor governments and local authorities.

The measures include repairing a broken retaining wall to prevent overflow from Sungai Buah into Sungai Semenyih. "Repair works on the broken retaining wall are still ongoing.

"Three more walls will be built, after which, the water will flow through a small channel at the first wall and overflow from the following walls. "We have also placed activated carbon filters, to reduce the odour pollution, at each wall," he said.

Wan Junaidi also suggested that Luas study the use of activated carbon as a best engineering practice, as applied by other water treatment plants.

He added that he has instructed the DOE to work with the Selangor state government to conduct a thorough investigation to identify the cause of the Semenyih plant contamination and those responsible for the incident.

"We will ensure that the ministry and the DOE work continuously with relevant agencies, including with the local authorities.

"We will also make sure that legal action is taken against individuals or companies responsible for affecting the welfare of the people," he said, adding that the ministry would not hesitate to work with the police to arrest the culprits.

Wan Junaidi also urged highway operators to immediately report to the DOE any incidents of chemicals or harmful substances spilling from roads and flowing into water channels.

“The DOE will monitor the cleaning works and give advice when necessary to avoid untoward incidents," he said.


Water supply disruption in Petaling, Hulu Langat, Sepang: Syabas
BERNAMA New Straits Times 26 Oct 16;

KUALA LUMPUR: Several areas in the Petaling, Hulu Langat and Sepang districts would experience water disruption as the Sungai Semenyih Water Treatment Plant (LRA) has yet to achieve its optimum level.

Syarikat Bekalan Air Selangor (Syabas) in a statement tonight said some of the affected areas were those which had its water supply scheduled to be restored in stages since 4pm today.

Yesterday, it was reported that the LRA resumed its operations after it was closed on Sunday due to odour pollution from the Nilai industrial area, in Negeri Sembilan.

“The restoration of the water supply has been delayed as the water retention pond has not achieved its optimum level,” said the statement.

The affected areas in the Petaling district are Bandar Puteri, Seri Kembangan 1 to 13, Serdang Utama, Bukit Serdang, Megaria Apartment, Bayu Apartment, Puchong Hartamas and Wawasan Puchong. In the Hulu Langat district, areas involved are Bandar Sunway Semenyih; Taman Semenyih Parklands; Desa Serdang; Gitu Bayu; Mines Resort; Heritage Apartment The Mines; Kajang Utama Persiaran Damai and Section 3; Sasapan Minangkabau; Kampung Rinching Tengah; Branang PKNS housing; Section 1 of Bandar Baru Bangi; Flats at Section 2,3, and 4 of Bandar Baru Bangi; Branang Industrial Park and Mahkota Branang.

In Sepang the areas involved are Section 11 of Bandar Baru Bangi, Universiti Tenaga Nasional (UNITEN) and Taman Ayer Hitam Permai. Syabas said all efforts were ongoing to stabilise and expedite the restoration of water supply in the affected areas, including delivering water supply using tankers. -- Bernama

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