Malaysia wants illegal chicken farms and fertiliser manufacturers prosecuted

EILEEN NG Today Online 31 Oct 17;

JOHOR BAHRU — The Malaysian environment ministry on Monday (Oct 30) called for the full weight of the law to be brought to bear against operators of illegal chicken farms and fertiliser manufacturers that pollute water sources, after three water treatment plants in Johor was closed over the weekend due to ammonia pollution.

At the same time, Johor executive councillor Hasni Mohammad told TODAY that they will take legal action against the owners of an illegal organic fertiliser processing factory, identified to have caused the temporary closure of the plants.

Natural Resources and Environment Minister Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar said chicken farm operators and fertiliser manufacturers should be blacklisted to stop them from forming other companies which can cause harm to the people and the environment.

He also called for enactment of laws requiring chicken farms and fertiliser manufacturers to apply for permits and be subjected to a set of regulations and penalties.

“The ministry is greatly concerned about the welfare of the people and takes a very serious view when illegal factories and farms pollute our waterways and environment for their own gain,” he said in a statement made available to TODAY.

“This blatant disregard for the lives of the people ... is appalling, to say the very least.”

Malaysian media reported over the weekend that an illegal poultry farm and a factory that makes fertiliser using chicken manure have been found to be the source of ammonia pollution in the Johor River.

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

The high level of pollution forced the temporary shutdown of the three water treatment plants since Friday (Oct 27), and led to water supply disruptions affecting 1.8 million people in Johor Bahru.

Water supply was finally restored around midnight on Sunday (Oct 29).

Confusion, however, has arisen on who exactly caused the shutdown of the plants.

Mr Wan Junaidi fingered the illegal poultry farm, saying that his ministry’s Department of Environment had directed the farm to relocate its operations away from the river in July last year because it was polluting the waters but the operators “totally ignored” the directive.

His ministry cannot do much about it as permits for farms are issued by the Department of Veterinary Services, which comes under the purview of the Agriculture ministry.

The owners however “did not bother” to apply for the permit, said Mr Wan Junaidi.

As such, he called for the chicken farm to be “closed permanently” and the Johor local authorities to “expeditiously” prosecute the farm owners for jeopardising livelihood of people in the vicinity.

But Mr Hasni and Johor Department of Veterinary Services (VSS) head Dr Aida Muhid said the chicken farm was legal.

It is an adjacent fertiliser processing plant that caused the ammonia pollution on Johor river, they said.

“The factory will have to cease operations immediately. We will not entertain any appeals from them as this is not the first time they were found to have caused a similar incident,” said Mr Hasni, adding that state authorities will also keep a close eye on the farm to ensure it does not discharge any waste into the river.

In July last year, the same fertiliser processing plant was partly responsible for another ammonia pollution incident in Johor River that affected the water supply to 600,000 people.

Mr Hasni said following the July incident, the plant’s operators had assured the state government that it will apply for a proper licence and ensure its operations complied with the necessary requirements.

“Unfortunately before they could complete their application, this latest incident took place,” he said.

As such, Mr Hasni said while the plant can try to relocate its operations to a different location, the state’s water regulatory body will go ahead to take “necessary action” against the operators, including hauling them to court.

VSS’ Dr Aida told TODAY the plant was supposed to upgrade its facilities by building more storage areas for the chicken waste and fertiliser as well as a buffer wall to prevent cross contamination with nearby water sources.

“We suspected fertiliser stored near the structures could have flowed into the river during recent rains,” she said, adding that her officers are still probing the matter.


Ammonia pollution: Poultry farm ignores notices on land use, keeps on making fertiliser illegally
Ahmad Fairuz Othman and Halim Said New Straits Times 30 Oct 17;

KULAI: Kulai District Office has issued two notices to the owner of the poultry farm since last year to explain why he was violating the term of land ownership.

Kulai District Officer Md Za'nal Misran said the farm owner had illegally opened up a second plot of land next to its farm to make fertiliser out of chicken manure using “compost” method, which had caused the problem.

He said Kulai District Land Administrative Office issued a notice to the owner two months after the previous big case of ammonia pollution last year, for violating its land usage terms under the National Land Code 1965.

"The 7A Notice for violating terms under Section 128 of the Code was issued to the farm owner in September 2016. The notice required the owner to return to the original terms for land use.

"Processing fertiliser is categorised as an enterprise and this violated its original terms for agriculture," he said in an interview at his office today.

Za'nal said the notice was issued after the fertiliser premises was found to have caused ammonia pollution in Sungai Sayong, which is a tributary of Sungai Johor in July last year.

He said the owner had obtained permission to operate the poultry farm on a 9.4ha site near Layang-Layang, which is located about 30km north of Kulai.

However, the owner had illegally used a second plot of land of 2.2ha nearby to process the fertiliser.

This second plot of land is located about 150m from Sungai Sayong.

Za'nal said after the first notice was issued, investigations were carried out, and Kulai District Land Administrative Office countinued to monitor the premises, but the owner did not adhere to it.

Za'nal said last month (September 2017), Kulai District Land Administrative Office issued its second notice known as 7B under Section 129 of the National Land Code 1965, which is a showcause notice that required the owner to give his reason why he did not revert to the original terms of the land usage.

He said on the part of Kulai District Land Administrative Office, it could not have done anything to force the farm owner to adhere to the notices.

"There is no way for (Kulai District Land Administrative Office) to take action on this matter.

“We were forced to follow the legal process, and it began with the issuance of notice for violating the terms of land use, and then later with a showcause notice.

"The notice that can be issued after this point is the 8A notice to seize the land, which comes with its own set of laws, procedures and evidence that need to be furnished before it can be done," said Za'nal.

Asked if the latest case of ammonia pollution could have been avoided, Za'nal said it was possible if the farm owner adhered to proper management of its fertiliser-making venture.

"It could have been avoided, if he closed down his fertiliser plant, or if he conducted its fertiliser activity on his first plot of land and he does it properly," he said.

The New Straits Times reported yesterday that the poultry farm that also made fertliser using chicken manure had been found to be the source of ammonia pollution in Sungai Johor that led to the temporary shutdown of three water treatment plants in Johor since Friday.

The incident raised the ire of residents affected by the water disruption in Johor Baru, Kulai, Iskandar Puteri and Kota Tinggi.

It also led to the state water utility company, SAJ Ranhill Sdn Bhd, issuing a notice 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 poultry farm had caused ammonia pollution.

In July last year, a similar case affected the water supply of 600,000 people.


River pollution: Environment Ministry worry over welfare of 600,000 Kulai, Kota Tinggi residents
Seri Nor Nadiah Koris New Straits Times 30 Oct 17;

KUALA LUMPUR: Natural Resources and Environment Ministry has expressed concern over the welfare of 600,000 residents in Kulai and Kota Tinggi following the shutting down of three water treatment plants due to pollution recently.

Its Minister Datuk Seri Dr Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar said the ministry always views seriously the problem of pollution involving illegal factories and farms that contaminate the waterways and environment.

This comes after an illegal poultry farm has been accused of polluting Sungai Kalong by allowing ammonia from the fertiliser it was producing to seep into the river.

Wan Junaidi explained that the ministry, through the Department of Environment, had directed the farm to be relocated away from the river in July last year but the order had apparrently been ignored.

“Under the Johor state law, poultry farm operators are required to obtain a permit from the Veterinary Department. However, the owners of this farm did not bother with this requirement and now we are facing these problems,” he said.

He added that to date, there was no regulations for fertiliser farms.

“However, we understood that the Agriculture and Agro-based Industry Ministry is currently drafting laws to regulate fertiliser farms,” he said.

Wan Junaidi said the operators should be blacklisted in order to prevent them from forming other companies which would cause harm to the residents and environment.

Authorities such as Kulai Municipal Council, Kulai Land and District Office and the Veterinary Department must look into the matter seriously and bring the poultry farm operators to justice.

“A law should also be enacted which requires poultry farms and fertilisers operators to apply for permits and be subjected to a set of regulations and penalties if they failed to comply,” he said.

He also said the waste water management for poultry farms and fertiliser factory should not be located near the riverbanks to avoid pollution.

“The water treatment plant operator should be more proactive by reviewing its Standard Operating Procedure to include Guide Self-Regulation (GSR), early warning system, performance monitoring practices and formulate an SOP to resume operation expeditiously.

“The conventional water treatment plant to treat ammonia pollution should also be upgraded.” he said.

Wan Junaidi also wants the Health Ministry to review the existing raw water intake guidelines based on the capacity and capability of the treatment plant.

“There should also be an alternative to the water storage to be used as drinking water source which will act as a redundancy system namely Off-site River Storage and balancing reservoir.

“We also need to review the existing water intake based on the current needs, change of land use and future development to prevent the risk of water pollution,” he said.

On Sunday, New Straits Times reported that three water treatment plant has been forced to shut down due to the excessive amount of ammonia in Sungai Johor.


Johor orders shutdown of poultry farm, factory that polluted river after water supply cut
Straits Times 29 Oct 17;

GELANG PATAH - Johor has directed a poultry farm and a factory that converts manure into fertiliser located along the Johor River in Kota Tinggi to close down, after identifying the facilities as being responsible for pollution that disrupted water supply to 1.8 million people on Saturday.

Menteri Besar Datuk Seri Mohamed Khaled Nordin said the move was necessary as the two premises have been identified as the cause of the high ammonia content in the Johor River.

He said the decision to close the premises was made following suggestions by eight agencies during a special meeting on Sunday (Oct 29), The Star reported.

In the meeting, investigations conducted by the eight agencies had linked the poultry farm and the plant to the high ammonia content in the river.

It was reported the high ammonia content was detected in the river on Saturday, forcing the closure of the Sungai Johor, Semanggar and Tai Hong water treatment plants.

In July last year, Singapore supplied an additional six million gallons of water a day to Malaysia after Johor's water regulatory body, Badan Kawalselia Air Johor, made an "urgent request" to Singapore water agency PUB following the shutdown of its supply system in JB due to pollution in the Johor River.

The extra amount of treated water was supplied by the PUB-operated Johor River Waterworks.

The Star reported at the time that effluents discharged from a palm oil mill had been identified as the main source of high ammonia content in the Johor River, which in turn caused the operations of three water treatment plants in Johor to stop, affecting some 600,000 users in the southern parts of Johor.

PUB is entitled to draw 250 million gallons of raw water daily from the Johor River under the 1962 Water Agreement with Malaysia, which expires in 2061.

In exchange, Singapore is obliged to sell five million gallons of treated water to Johor each day. However, PUB has been regularly providing Johor with up to 16 million gallons of water on a daily basis.


Malaysia calls for permanent closure of farm that polluted Johor River, blacklists operators
Shannon Teoh Malaysia Bureau Chief Straits Times 30 Oct 17;

KUALA LUMPUR - Malaysia’s Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment has called for the permanent shut down of a chicken farm that was producing fertiliser from chicken droppings, after it allowed ammonia from the fertiliser to pollute Johor River, resulting in water supply disruption to 1.8 million users.

In a press statement issued on Monday (Oct 30), the ministry expressed “great disappointment” over the closure of three water treatment plants in Kulai and Kota Tinggi in Johor due to the ammonia pollution, which hit water supply to about 600,000 people.

The ministry said it takes a “very serious view when illegal factories and farms pollute our waterways and environment for their own gain”.

The ministry has also asked for authorities such as the Kulai Municipal Council, Kulai Land and District Office and the Veterinary Services Department to “look into this matter seriously and expeditiously in order to prosecute the chicken farm owners for jeopardising the lives and livelihood of 600,000 people in the vicinity to the full extent of existing laws and enforce based on their jurisdiction”.

It has also called for the operators to be blacklisted in order to prevent them from forming other companies which will potentially cause harm to people and the environment.

Furthermore, it will seek to enact laws requiring chicken farms and fertilizer manufacturers to apply for permits and be subject to a set of regulations and penalties in the event of failure to compy.

Water treatment plants in Johor are now operating at close to normal capacity and are expected to resume full operations on Monday, as the ammonia levels in Johor River stabilise, Johor State Minister for Public Works Hasni Mohammad said.

When asked if the water supply has resumed, Datuk Hasni told The Straits Times that the supply to consumers should normalise in a few days, as it will take up to 48 hours for treated water to reach their taps. ​

Water supply to 1.8 million taps in Johor was disrupted over the weekend after high levels of ammonia were detected in the Johor River.

On Sunday, Johor identified a poultry farm and a factory in the Kota Tinggi district that converts manure into fertiliser as the source of the pollution, and ordered them to shut down.

Ammonia level of 2.75 parts per million (ppm) recorded late Friday night remained until 4.30pm on Saturday, nearly double the Health Ministry's permitted level of 1.5ppm.

The Johor River is a major source of drinking water for the state, with the river draining into the Johor Strait north of Pulau Ubin and Pulau Tekong. Singapore draws up to 250 million gallons of raw water a day from the river, under a 1962 agreement with Malaysia, which expires in 2061.


No order for Kulai poultry farm to close down, says Johor DoE
Ahmad Fairuz Othman and Halim Said New Straits Times 30 Oct 17;

JOHOR BARU: There was never any directive for the poultry farm and fertiliser plant in Layang-Layang, near Kulai to close down when it was found to have caused ammonia pollution last year, said Johor Department of Environment (DoE) director Datuk Dr Muhammad Ezanni Mat Salleh.

"What was issued by the Johor DoE at that time was a notice for the premises to conduct remedial work to clean up the areas affected by the pollution, and to prevent any recurrance of the problem.

"There was no directive to close the premises last year.

"The discretion to close down the premises is the perogative of the state government. We exhausted all avenues last year. We were seeking cooperation from the owner to comply to the regulations, but he did not cooperate," Ezanni told the New Straits Times.

It was reported yesterday that the poultry farm that also made fertliser using chicken manure had been found to be the source of ammonia pollution in Sungai Johor that led to the temporary shutdown of three water treatment plants in Johor since Friday.

The incident raised the ire of residents affected by the water disruption in Johor Baru, Kulai, Iskandar Puteri and Kota Tinggi.

It also led to the state water utility company, SAJ Ranhill Sdn Bhd, issuing a notice 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 poultry farm had caused ammonia pollution.

In July last year, a similar case affected the water supply of 600,000 people.

SAJ Ranhill, in its official Facebook page "Setitis Yang Bermakna" said in a poster last night that all three water treatment plants in Semangar, Sungai Johor and Tai Hong have resumed operations.


Johor Veterinary Dept told to inspect all livestock farms near rivers
Halim Said New Straits Times 31 Oct 17;

JOHOR BARU: The state Veterinary Services Department has been instructed to inspect all livestock farms operating near rivers to ensure adherence to environmental regulations.

State Health, Environment, Education and Information Committee chairman Datuk Ayub Rahmat said the move was necessary to prevent further contamination that could threaten the eco-system of rivers in the state.

He said the latest case of ammonia pollution in Sungai Johor on Friday, which led to the shut down of three water treatment plants and caused water disruptions affecting 1.8 million users, should serve as a lesson to all enforcement agencies to be more vigilant.

The ammonia pollution was traced to a poultry farm, which opened up a second plot of land to illegally process fertiliser from chicken manure in Kampung Murni Jaya in Layang-layang.

"I am not pointing fingers at any department or agency, but they must be thorough in their checks to prevent untowards incidents such as the pollution in Sungai Johor," he told the New Straits Times.

Ayub said there was also a need to check and revise the list of all livestock farms near Sungai Johor and other rivers in the state.

"I will table this proposal with representatives from the State Veterinary Services Department, Land and Mines Office, District Offices, state Department of Environment and Drainage and Irrigation Department (DID) to re-affirm our commitment to protect the state's rivers, which also function as water catchment areas," he said.

He said measures must be taken to ensure that farms operators adhere to the law, especially if they are located near water catchment areas.

Johor Veterinary Services Department director Dr Aida Muhid said the state has over 778 livestock farms which are licenced, which come under the Grades A to C categories under the Malaysian Good Agricultural Practices.

Another 21 livestock farms are in the Grades D and E categories.

On the state government's request to check on all livestock farms located near rivers, Dr Aida said that she will cross-reference the department's list of existing farms with that of the Johor Water Regulatory Body (Bakaj) and DID.

She said the department database did not specify if the farms were located close to any river or body of water.

She said the guidelines for livestock farm operations, which is contained in a state enactment that is enforced by the Veterinary Services Department was only introduced in 1997.

"Some of the farms have been operating for 30 to 40 years and these farms mostly apply the convential farming methods which can pose a risk to the environment. They can possibly cause river pollution, and lead to stench, noise and health issues," she said.

Dr Aida said that when these problems occur, the department issues a temporary stopwork order to the premises under the Poultry Farming Enactment 1997, which is enforced at the state-level.

"A stopwork order can be up to three months as the poultry farm needs to ensure all provisions of the Malaysian Good Agricultural Practices is observed accordingly.

"They must observe all those requirements before they resume operations, or else they will be asked to shut down," she said.

Citing the example of a poultry farm, it must operate 500m away from residential homes. Farms that were opened before 1997 must make sure that their premises are 200m away from residential homes.

"This is to prevent inconveniences to residents due to smell coming from the farm or any other issues such as noise and health wise problems," she said.

During NST's visit to the farm, a villager said that the houses closest to the farm were located about 200m away.

Dr Aida said other than this, the provision also include no open rearing and must be carried out indoor.

"The indoor facility must be equipped with bio-security measures such as proper ventilations and farm animal waste control to ensure there is no biological threats to the environment," she said.

Checks by NST revealed

that the poultry farm has also been causing hardship to nearby villagers.

Kampung Murni Jaya village head Mohd Azam Saadon said residents such as himself put up with stench, and they have seen how heavy rain caused flooding at the fertiliser plant.

"The most recent flood a few months ago caused a ledge to collapse in front of the stockpile ponds, which contained chicken manure.

"The collapse ledge at the plant's perimeter fencing, caused the chicken faeces inside the stockpile ponds to spill over to a canal which flows into nearby Sungai Sayong," he said. The farm has stopped operating since the Friday.

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