Malaysia, Johor: Illegal poultry farm to be shut down for causing pollution in Sungai Johor

Rizalman Hammim and Ahmad Fairuz Othman New Straits Times 29 Oct 17;

JOHOR BARU: An illegal poultry farm that also makes fertiliser using chicken manure will be shut down by the Johor state government, after it was identified as the source of ammonia pollution in Sungai Johor.

Menteri Besar Datuk Seri Mohamed Khaled Nordin said the decision was made following a recommendation made during a meeting chaired by the Johor Water Regulatory Body (Bakaj) today.

The pollution in Sungai Johor, which was caused by the farm located at the border of Kulai and Kluang, has led to the temporary shut down of three water treatment plants since Friday.

The emergency meeting, Khaled said, was attended by representatives from water utility company SAJ Ranhill Sdn Bhd, Johor Department of Environment (DoE), Kulai Municipal Council and Johor Veterinary Services Department.

“We (state government) will close down the premises... the recommendation will be further discussed at the state executive council meeting this week.

“We have to take drastic measures to prevent this from happening again in the future,” Khaled told reporters after launching the “eRezeki and eUsahawan Bootcamp” at the Johor Baru Central Municipal Council hall in Gelang Patah today.

The pollution in Sungai Johor had forced SAJ Ranhill to shut down its Semangar water treatment plant on Friday after ammonia levels exceeded the permissible exposure limit.

The permissible exposure limit for ammonia set by the Health Ministry is 1.5 parts per million (ppm). The ammonia level in Sungai Johor reached 2.75 ppm.

SAJ Ranhill was also forced to shut down the Sungai Johor and Tai Hong water treatment plants after ammonia was detected downstream.

The temporary closures affected about 1.8 million consumers in Johor Baru, Kulai, Iskandar Puteri and Kota Tinggi.

An SAJ Ranhill spokesman said this is the third time its treatment plants shut down this year due to ammonia pollution.

State Health, Environment, Education and Information Committee chairman Datuk Ayub Rahmat yesterday confirmed that the pollution was caused by a poultry farm.

Ayub had said the pollution created by the farm caused the three water treatment plants to shut down on July 12 last year, affecting some 600,000 consumers.

Meanwhile, Johor DoE director Datuk Dr Mohammad Ezanni Mat Salleh said the farm was operating without the approval from the state DoE.

“The state DoE previously did not support the approval of the factory in the Preliminary Assessment Site (PAT) to proceed with the project in the area.”

“After last year’s ammonia pollution, a meeting was conducted with all stakeholders and the DoE had recommended for the factory to be relocated.

“However, no action was taken,” he said, adding that the premises fell under the purview of the Veterinary Services Department.

Johor Veterinary Services Department director Dr Dr Aida Muhid, however, said ths was not a “clear-cut case” as the department was not informed of the plan to construct a fertiliser component at the farm.

“Initial checks revealed that a licence was given to the farm to rear livestock on one plot of land.

“But the fertiliser processing plant, which may have opened more recently, is located on a different plot of land. There is no permit for this plant,” she said when contacted.

Dr Aida assured the public that her department will continue to monitor the premises to prevent untoward incidents.

Two of the three affected water treatment plants resumed operations at about 7pm yesterday.

SAJ Ranhill corporate communications head Jamaluddin Jamil water supply is expected to return in stages.

The Tai Hong plant, which is operated by Singapore’s Public Utilities Board (PUB), remains closed.

Jamaluddin said he expected the plant to resume operations by tonight.


Illegal poultry farm found to be cause of ammonia pollution in Sungai Johor
Ahmad Fairuz Othman and Rizalman Hammim New Straits Times 29 Oct 17;

JOHOR BARU: An illegal poultry farm that also makes fertiliser using chicken manure has been found to be the source of ammonia pollution in Sungai Johor that led to the temporary shut down of three water treatment plants since Friday.

The incident raised the ire of residents as water supply disruptions affected several parts of Johor Baru.

It also led to the state water utility company SAJ Ranhill Sdn Bhd to issue a notice saying that up to 1.8 million consumers could be affected by the incident.

However, what was troubling was that it was not the first time the same poultry farm contributed to ammonia pollution.

A previous case of ammonia pollution at Sungai Johor in July last year, which affected the water supply to 600,000 people, was partly caused by the same farm.

Johor Department of Environment (DoE) director Datuk Dr Mohammad Ezanni Mat Salleh said the poultry farm on the banks of Sungai Sayong, which is a tributary of Sungai Johor, was operating without the approval from the state DoE.

"The state DoE previously did not support the approval of the factory in the Preliminary Assessment Site (PAT) to proceed with the project in the area.

"However, it continued to operate. The farm operated under the jurisdiction of the Kulai District Land Office and Johor Veterinary Services Department, and these are the only agencies which can tell the farm to stop its operations," Ezanni told the New Straits Times.

Ezanni said that following the previous case of pollution that occurred in July last year, a meeting was conducted with all stakeholders and it was agreed upon that the factory should be relocated.

"However, there was no action taken on this, and the state DoE's notice to have the poultry farm relocated has fallen on deaf ears," said Ezanni.

He said the department had no jurisdiction over this factory as it rears chicken and therefore any order to close must come from the Johor Veterinary Services Department or the District Land Office.

He said based on checks conducted by DoE staff at the farm since the previous case of pollution last year, the factory did not adhere to proper storage techniques for its fertiliser.

"The factory uses manure from the chicken to make fertiliser. Much of the fertiliser is improperly stored. The fertiliser products and chicken manure are stacked and exposed to the elements.

"When it rains, the water soaks these items and the water seeps into the ground and flows into the river. This leads to the high content of ammonia in the river," said Ezanni.

Yesterday, Johor Health, Environment, Education and Information Committee chairman Datuk Ayub Rahmat confirmed that the ammonia pollution was caused by the premises which processed chicken manure.

Ayub said this was the third incident of ammonia pollution and based on SAJ Ranhill's investigation, it was caused by the same party.

“The Department of Environment (DOE) previously did not support the approval in the PAT to proceed with the project in the area and we also regret that the local Land Office and Veterinary Department did not take stern action over the matter,” he said.

Meanwhile, SAJ Ranhill's corporate communications head Jamaluddin Jamil said that two out of the three water treatment plants that were shut down had resumed operations.

"The Semanggar and Sungai Johor water treatment plants were re-opened about 7pm last night. Now, only the PUB (Public Utilities Board) Tai Hong water treatment plant remains closed," said Jamaluddin, adding that regular water supply to several areas would resume by tonight.


Call to impose heavier penalties on anyone found to have polluted water catchment areas
Rizalman Hammim New Straits Times 29 Oct 17;

JOHOR BARU: Residents affected by the water supply disruptions in Johor want the government to be more stringent and impose heavier penalties on anyone found to have polluted the water catchment areas in the state.

These residents, who have experienced dry taps before, said it was not enough to just impose fines as these polluters could do it again.

Sahrulerman Abd Rahim, 38, said many Johoreans were forced to endure days without water supply in the past due to the shut down of water treatment plants because of excessive amount of ammonia at rivers.

He said the nightmare kept recurring and many people wondered how come nothing was done to stop the polluters from doing it again.

"It is not enough for authorities to only impose fines or compounds on those who are found to commit such offences.

"They should not be let off with just a slap on the wrist. They will continue to carry out their activities even after a fine or a compound because they can afford to pay.

"The authorities should impose a heavier penalty like shutting down the operation of any business found to be polluting rivers. Better still, ask the operator to move their factory to another place," said Sahrulerman, who lives in Taman Nusa Bestari 2 in Gelang Patah with his wife and three children.

He said it is was a nuisance for his family whenever there was a water disruption as it affected their daily lives.

"The last time the Semangar plant was closed, water supply to my house was disrupted for about three days," he said.

Sahrulerman was commenting on the move by SAJ Ranhill Sdn Bhd to shut down the operations of three water treatment plants along Sungai Johor, namely the Semangar, Sungai Johor and Tai Hong plants, since Friday night following the increase in the level of ammonia in the river.

The Semangar plant was closed late on Friday night when ammonia levels at its intake point at the river was recorded at 2.75 parts per million (ppm), which was higher than the permissable level of ammonia set by the Health Ministry, which was 1.5 ppm.

The situation got worse when SAJ Ranhill announced yesterday evening that high ammonia levels were also detected at the Sungai Johor and Tai Hong water treatment plants, which forced the shut down of the plants.

The Sungai Johor and Tai Hong water treatment plants are located further downstream from the Semangar plant.

This is the third occurrance of water treatment plants being temporarily shut down due to ammonia pollution this year.

The authorities traced the latest case of ammonia pollution to a poultry farm which processes fertiliser from chicken manure located at the banks of the river.

Meanwhile, Norazilah Ab Rasul, 36, said the water supply in her area was disrupted a day after she heard about it through SAJ Ranhill's announcement.

She said she only noticed that the water supply to her house was disrupted about 10 am today.

"I knew about the closure of the Semangar plant, but the water supply at my house was initially not affected.

"It is only this morning I found that the water supply was disrupted. By that time, I could not do anything," said Norazilah, who lives in Taman Nusantara.

The housewife agreed that more stringent action should taken against those who were found polluting the water sources.

"These polluters must be dealt with strictly by the authorities. Action must be taken against them to serve as a lesson to others not to pollute our rivers," said Norazilah.

Fertiliser factory ordered to close for polluting Sg Johor
zazali musa The Star 30 Oct 17;

GELANG PATAH: A factory processing poultry manure into fertiliser in Layang-Layang along Sungai Johor has been ordered to close as it is linked to ammonia pollution in the river.

Mentri Besar Datuk Seri Mohamed Khaled Nordin said the drastic move was taken as the factory had been identified as the source that caused the rise of ammonia in the raw water.

He said operations at the Semanggar, Sungai Johor and Tai Hong water treatment plants were forced to stop when the chemical content was detected in the raw water from Sungai Johor on Saturday.

Following that, water supply to some 1.8 million users in south Johor was disrupted for two days.

He said the same factory had in July last year caused a major water disruption to hundreds of thousands of consumers in south Johor due to ammonia pollution in Sungai Johor.

Khaled said a similar directive was given to a poultry farm operating near to the factory, as it also contributed to the chemical content in the raw water.

The decision to ask the factories to cease operations was made following recommendations by eight agencies including the Johor Water Regulatory Body, SAJ Ranhill Sdn Bhd, Department of Environment, Kulai Land Office and Veterinary Department in a special meeting yesterday.

SAJ Ranhill corporate communications head Jamaluddin Jamil said water supply to some areas in three districts namely Johor Baru, Kulai and Kota Tinggi has been restored.

Operations at the three water treatment plants would back to normal today.

“We will not take any risks as water quality is top priority,” he said.

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