Malaysia: Cleaning up of 1.5km-stretch of Sungai Kim Kim over

Bernama New Straits Times 17 Mar 19;

JOHOR BAHRU: The cleaning up process along 1.5 kilometres of Sungai Kim Kim, in Pasir Gudang near here, which began on Wednesday, following dumping of toxic chemical waste there, was completed today.

Energy, Technology, Science, Climate Change and Environment Minister Yeo Bee Yin said, however, monitoring would continue today to see if anything more needs to be done.

“The 1.5 km-stretch of Sungai Kim Kim that was polluted has already been cleaned up but today we want to see what more ‘touch up’ we can do.

“Today can be said to be a day of monitoring. After that, then only we can look into what further action is needed,” she told the media at the state Disaster Management Committee’s operations room here.

Also present was state Department of Environment (DOE) director Datuk Dr Mohammad Ezanni Mat Salleh.

Yeo said at the same time, 30 teams comprising DOE members and Chemistry Department personnel were deployed to 30 schools around the affected area today, to monitor air quality by using gas detectors.

She said all 30 schools were located three to nine kilometres from Sungai Kim Kim.

“Before this we have monitored the air quality in different places... and found the quality was at a safe level. But, our coverage today will be extensive because the cleaning up of the river has been completed,” she said, adding that the full report on the air quality will be made public tomorrow. – BERNAMA

1,250 tonnes of soil, water and sludge removed from polluted river, says Johor Health Dept
mohd farhaan shah The Star 17 Mar 19;

PASIR GUDANG: Contractors involved in the cleaning operation of Sungai Kim Kim have so far collected 1,250 tonnes of soil, water and sludge from the river.

Johor Health, Environment and Agriculture Committee chairman Dr Sahruddin Jamal said that 1.3km of the 1.5km polluted river has been cleaned up so far.

"The contractors have collected about 550 tonnes of soil and sludge and 700 tonnes of polluted water as of 4pm Saturday (March 16)," he said in a statement here Sunday (March 17).

Dr Sahruddin also said until midnight Saturday, 108 patients, who were warded at Sultanah Aminah Hospital, Sultan Ismail Hospital and Permai Hospital, have been discharged.

"Seven patients are still being warded at intensive care units (ICU) but are in stable condition," he said.

450 tonnes of chemicals removed from Pasir Gudang, monitoring continues until Wednesday (March 20)
remar nordin The Star 17 Mar 19;

JOHOR BARU: A total of 450 tonnes of polluted soil, water and sludge from Sungai Kim Kim have been removed on Sunday (March 17), with work now entering the monitoring stage.

Johor Mentri Besar, Datuk Osman Sapian said that although the clean up work had finished, the state had ordered the contractors involved in the cleanup to stay and monitor the location until Wednesday (March 20).

“We have 100% finished the clean up process. It's just that we still need to monitor the location for at least three days, as part of our contingency plan.

“The polluted material had been brought over to an incineration plant in Jalan Tembaga, Pasir Gudang, to be incinerated,” he told reporters after attending the the disaster management committee meeting at Pasir Gudang Municipal Council (MPPG) here.

He added that the polluted material will be incinerated between 800 celsius and 1,200 celsius to ensure that all chemical leftovers are destroyed.

“The remains of the material will be sent to Kualiti Alam Hazardous Waste Management Facility at Bukit Pelanduk, Seremban,” he said.

Hydrogen cyanide level in Sungai Kim Kim too low to pose threat
Mohd Noor Aswad New Straits Times 17 Mar 19;

PASIR GUDANG: The small quantity of hydrogen cyanide found in Sungai Kim Kim does not pose a threat to the public.

Johor Fire and Rescue Department director Yahaya Madis said it would only be dangerous if there was prolonged exposure.

“The concentration of hydrogen cyanide is at a safe level of 3ppm (parts per million) and below.

“The highest recorded reading was 4.5ppm on March 13 at Taman Tanjung Puteri Resort,” Yahaya said, adding that the reading returned to normal two hours later.

The state Health Department has refused to divulge the type of toxins found in the bodies of people affected by chemical pollution of the river, as it involves patient confidentiality.

Energy, Science, Technology, Environment and Climate Change Minister Yeo Bee Yin said: “The 1.5km stretch of Sungai Kim Kim that was polluted has already been cleaned up.

“We will start monitoring the area and see if any further action is needed.”

She said 30 teams of state environment and chemistry personnel had been deployed to the area to monitor air quality.

The public is advised to stay away from the area and to wear protective gear if they have to be in the vicinity.

Yeo has authorised Pusat Kawalan Operasi Bencana Sungai Kim Kim (PKOB) to be the official source of information for the media and the public to minimise the spread of fake news.

Enquiries may be directed to PKOB at 07-2522143 and 072532143.

143 victims of chemical waste contamination still hospitalised
Bernama New Straits Times 17 Mar 19;

JOHOR BAHRU: As of midnight yesterday, as many as 143 who were affected by the chemical waste contamination incident in Pasir Gudang were still receiving treatment in hospitals.

Chairman of the state Health, Environment and Agriculture Committee, Dr Sahruddin Jamal said they include 36 people who were referred to hospitals outside the district and 29 in hospitals in other states.

“As of midnight, seven patients are still warded in the Intensive Care Unit and reported to be in stable condition,” he said.

He added that 108 people have been allowed to go home after receiving treatment at the Sultanah Aminah Hospital, Sultan Ismail Hospital and Permai Hospital.

Dr Sahruddin also said 1.3 kilometres (km) of the 1.5 km contaminated area in Sungai Kim Kim have been cleaned up.

He said the cleaning works have been conducted non-stop since Wednesday and are going well.

“The remaining 200 metres will be completed at the latest by one or two days’ time,” he said.

He added that 550 metric tonnes of contaminated soil and sludge as well as 700 metric tonnes of water have been collected as of 4 pm yesterday.

He also reminded members of the public not to approach the affected areas and reduce outdoor activities.

So far, educational institutions in Pasir Gudang are still closed and will only begin operations after the authorities declare it safe, he said. – BERNAMA

We’ve leads on toxic dump suspects, says IGP
The Star 18 Mar 19;

PASIR GUDANG: Police have several strong leads that point to the suspects involved in the chemical dumping, said Inspector-General of Police Tan Sri Mohamad Fuzi Harun.

He said they received 76 reports of chemical dumping at Sungai Kim Kim here.

“All of the reports are on the chemical spill and we are investigating them,” he said when met after visiting the medic base at Pasir Gudang Indoor Stadium here yesterday.

He said police stationed about 150 personnel within the chemical-hit area to safeguard houses that have been left behind by residents there due to the disaster.

“I hope people will adhere to police instructions when coming to the area.

“We will not allow lorries or heavy vehicles that have nothing to do with the disaster relief effort to enter the area,” he said.

Dumping still taking place
nelson benjamin, mohd farhaan shah, venesa devi, and remar nordin The Star 18 Mar 19;

JOHOR BARU: While the authorities are cleaning up Sungai Kim Kim to curb the spread of pollution in Pasir Gudang, there are new signs of other waste dumping sites within a 5km area.

A check by The Star in Kampung Pasir showed that solid waste, mainly from construction, was being dumped about 50m from the river.

One of the discarded items spotted had the name of a major chemical company.

It is learnt that, so far, more than a dozen other sites have been discovered and the authorities are looking for more sites as they widen their checks around Sungai Kim Kim.

These house owners are paid for each lorry load and on some days there are a few lorries going into the area to dump chemicals or construction waste.

A resident known as Mat said this has been going on for a long time, with some of the houses even putting up zinc hoarding to prevent prying eyes.

“They are very fast. They put the hoses into the river and leave as soon as possible,” he said, adding that many of the residents were ignorant and did not know that the chemicals were harmful.

“Now, because of their action, this disaster has happened and all of us are affected. I hope the authorities will take stern action,” he said.

He added that the authorities needed to find a long-term solution to stop the residents from working with syndicates which bring in chemicals from the nearby industrial estate.

Another resident, who wanted to be known as Majid, 47, said some of the houses in the area had been turned into dumpsites.

“I am not sure about chemical waste but construction waste is being dumped close to the river.

“There are slopes behind every house a few metres from the river where some of the owners have reclaimed by piling up soil behind their houses,” he said.

He added that these activities have been going on for quite some time and he does not know when it all began.

Kampung Pasir Putih chief Suhaimi Ahmad Shah confirmed that a few locations in Pasir Putih have been turned into illegal landfills by contractors hired by the local authorities.

He hoped that action will be taken immediately to address this matter, especially houses along Jalan Selasih 4.

Johor Department of Environ-ment (DOE) director Datuk Dr Moham­­­mad Ezanni Mat Salleh, when showed all the photographs by The Star reporter, said the DoE would investigate the matter and would order immediate action to be taken.

Malaysian Nature Society vice-president Vincent Chow said he is convinced that the residents knew about this illegal dumping activity.

“It is just sad that they have made this into a living and the authorities need to educate them that this is wrong and harmful to them and their families,” he added.

Chow also urged the DOE to speed up their checks on all chemical factories in the area as he is certain that those carrying out illegal dumping would now look for other rivers to throw their waste.

“Please do not wait until this Pasir Gudang disaster is over to check the companies.

“The government should also rope in other agencies such as the Forestry Department, Drainage and Irrigation Department and local councils to immediately start checking waterways, jungles and open spaces and keep an eye on these chemical factories.

“Those involved will surely try to get rid of all their chemical waste elsewhere to avoid being caught,” he said, adding that there should be long-term measures instead of just resorting to “knee jerk” reactions during a crisis.

Energy, Technology, Science, Climate Change and Environment Minister Yeo Bee Yin had earlier announced that as a long-term measure, the DOE will be carrying out checks on 252 chemical factories in the area after the crisis is over.