Malaysia: Fire and Rescue Dept has stationed 133 Hazmat personnel in Pasir Gudang

The Star 15 Mar 19;

KOTA BARU (Bernama): The Hazardous Materials Unit (Hazmat) of the Fire and Rescue Department (JPBM) has stationed 133 personnel at the polluted area in Pasir Gudang, Johor, to monitor air quality and to advise the state disaster management committee accordingly, says Bomba director-general Datuk Mohammad Hamdan Wahid.

He said the personnel had been stationed at the location since March 7, the first day the dumping of chemical waste into Sungai Kim Kim in Pasir Gudang was reported.

He said the team consisted of officers from several states, including Kuala Lumpur, Melaka and Perak and were being led by the Johor JBPM director Datuk Yahaya Madis.

“They have the expertise in handling hazardous materials and have brought the necessary equipment so that they could work with other agencies that have also been assigned there.

“This is because toxic fumes are hazardous. We believe that if the chemical waste is not removed, it can harm public health,” he told reporters after the presentation of JBPM's Excellence Service Award 2018 here Friday (March 15).

Kelantan JBPM director Nazili Mahmood was also present.

More than 3,000 people were reported to have sought medical attention after inhaling toxic fumes emanating from the chemical waste.

Mohammad Hamdan said the chemical pollution in Sungai Kim Kim would be controlled as best as it could with the cooperation of the various agencies that have been tasked with tackling the issue.

“JBPM actually has two Hazmat posts in the area that operate as disaster control centres,” he said.

Meanwhile, he said that the department's 16 fire control operations centres were all set to deal with and prevent forest fires in the current hot and dry weather.

“Some states have received reports of forest and peat fires including in the Klang Valley, Perak, Melaka, Kedah, Pahang, Kelantan and Johor.

“We advise the public not to carry out open burning because it can cause massive harm to the country," he added. – Bernama

Teams deployed to monitor Sungai Kim Kim for contamination
The Star 16 Mar 19;

JOHOR BARU: Teams from the Fire and Rescue Department have been deployed to monitor air, water and soil for chemical contamination near Sungai Kim Kim.

Department director-general Datuk Mohammad Hamdan Wahid said these teams were working round the clock to enable authorities to assess the situation in the affected areas.

They would collect samples from around the river as well as the nearby housing estate and public places to be analysed, he said.

Mohammad Hamdan said the department would then share the results of their findings and work with other agencies to coordinate their disaster management efforts.“We have had personnel at the location since we responded to the distress call on March 7.

Emergency medical rescue service ambulances, he added, were now stationed at the Pasir Gudang indoor stadium to help with rescue and pre-medical efforts.

“The department has handled many chemical spills, but the Pasir Gudang incident involves a large area. The source and origin of the contamination is not just confined to one main spot like a gas leak.

“The affected stretch is huge and there are many types of chemicals involved,” he said, adding that the task was time consuming and the clean-up cost would be high.

He also said closing schools in the vicinity was a step in the right direction as it helped to reduce the number of schoolchildren affected.

“I always believe it is better to be cautious when it comes to dealing with unknown chemicals,” he said.

He noted that the unstable physical characteristics of the chemical along with the changing weather conditions, including wind directions, had also affected operations.

He said the teams would remain in Pasir Gudang for as long as they were needed and that the department was prepared for any eventuality or scenarios.

Meanwhile, during a visit to Sungai Kim Kim, The Star saw that a 1.5km stretch of river had been dredged in an effort to clean it.

Dozens of bags were seen being filled with the dredged silt to be transported to a safe site. At least two tractors were used in the clean-up.At a forward base next to the river, several Department of En­vi­ronment personnel, who carried out checks around the river, experienced dizzy spells and had to seek medical attention.

In Putrajaya, Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad said authorities had res­ponded satisfactorily to the incident.The Prime Minister also commended the work of hospital staff during the crisis and pointed out that they had saved lives.

“I am satisfied with the work done to counter the effects of this poisoning. The hospital staff did a good job.“It is unusual to have people poisoned by such chemicals. But they have prevented any death from taking place. Most of those who are still in hospital will be discharged as soon as they recover.

“Overall, I see the handling has been very good and I see no reason to announce any emergency measures,” Dr Mahathir told a press conference at the Perdana Lea­dership Foundation here.

He also visited the scene and hospitalised victims on Thurs­day.

TMJ: District should have been placed under emergency
The Star 16 Mar 19;

PASIR GUDANG: The district should have been placed under an emergency since the first day of the chemical spill in Sungai Kim Kim, says Tunku Mahkota Johor Tunku Ismail Ibni Sultan Ibrahim (pic).

He wrote on Twitter that the government should have declared a state of emergency on March 7 and relocated residents to a temporary place until there was a guarantee that the area was safe.

“Not declaring is all right, but at least evacuate the area until everything is stable and safe.

“2,000 people affected and no need to declare an emergency.

“Wow. Amazing,” he tweeted on his official Twitter account.

On Thursday night, Tunku Ismail visited victims being placed at the Pasir Gudang Indoor Stadium.

He added that there were some quarters who were trying to politicise the issue.

Tunku Ismail said there had been enough campaigning and that it was time to work and govern.

“Wake up! People are suffering and some dying,” he said, adding that the deadly chemical cyanide was found in most of the victims.

Johor govt welcomes face mask donations from other states
New Straits Times 15 Mar 19;

JOHOR BARU: The state government welcomes contributions of face and nose masks type R95 from any party, including other state governments and no-governmental organisations.

State Health, Environment and Agriculture Committee chairman Dr Sahruddin Jamal said this was because there was a shortage of R95 face masks in the Pasir Gudang and city area.

“It is understood that the supply of R95 masks is limited and the public is finding it hard to get them,” he said after visiting the Disaster Aid Management Committee Operations Centre at Menara Aqabah, Pasir Gudang Municipal Council, here, today.

“So, if other state governments want to help by contributing R95, we (the Johor government) welcome them.”

It was reported yesterday that the face masks were in high demand in pharmacies in Pasir Gudang, and many outlets were running out of them.

Residents are now opting for N95 masks.

Dr Sahruddin said he was informed that the Department of Occupational Safety and Health (DOSH) and the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) had contributed face masks yesterday.

“Workers in the industrial sector in Pasir Gudang do not face any problems as their employers had provided them with face masks,” he said.

Dr Sahruddin said 780 people were referred to the early treatment centre at the Pasir Gudang Municipal Council Indoor Stadium from 6pm to midnight yesterday.

Dr Sahruddin said only 202 of them were referred for follow-up treatment at Sultanah Aminah Hospital and Sultan Ismail Hospital, with 113 warded.

He said a total of 3,555 people had received early treatment after they were affected by toxic fumes due to the illegal dumping of toxic chemicals in Sungai Kim Kim that was reported on March 7.

He said 531 victims who had received treatment at the two hospitals earlier had been allowed to go home.