JOHOR BARU, March 11 — The Johor Department of Environment (DoE) today confirmed that they have detained three male suspects in the illegal disposal of chemical waste in Kim Kim River in Pasir Gudang last Thursday.
Johor DoE director Datuk Mohammad Ezanni Mat Salleh said those detained included two factory owners and a worker who are all in their 50s.
“They were arrested in a special operation conducted with the assistance of the police yesterday and early today,” he said when contacted by Malay Mail.
Last Thursday, about 1,400 students of SK Taman Pasir Putih and SMK Taman Pasir Putih were instructed to vacate their school area at about 10.30am when some students had fainted after inhaling methane and benzene fumes that came from the nearby Kim Kim River.
Over the weekend, a total of 82 victims were hospitalised or sought treatment.
DoE investigators had identified the chemical as marine oil that emitted flammable methane and benzene fumes. The oil is a scheduled waste and needs proper disposal due to its hazardous nature.
Mohammad Ezanni said the owner of a chemical factory in Kulai was detained at 7pm yesterday and at 12.30am today, the owner of a shredded waste factory in Taman Pasir Puteh and a worker was nabbed.
“We have classified the case under Section 34B of the Environmental Quality Act 1974, which provides for a maximum fine of RM500,000 and imprisonment of not more than five years,” he said.
It was believed that about 20 to 40 tonnes of the marine oil waste were illegally dumped into the Kim Kim River on early Thursday morning.