Johor closes nine more schools over toxic fumes

A notice being put up in front of SMK Pasir Putih to announce the temporary closure of the school due to toxic fumes from chemicals dumped into the nearby Sungai Kim Kim, March 7, 2019. — Foto Bernama
A notice being put up in front of SMK Pasir Putih to announce the temporary closure of the school due to toxic fumes from chemicals dumped into the nearby Sungai Kim Kim, March 7, 2019. — Foto Bernama

JOHOR BARU, March 12 — The Johor state government has decided to close nine more schools tomorrow amid air pollution caused by Sungai Kim Kim that has sickened over 250 people, bringing the total schools closed to 13.

Johor Health, Environment and Agriculture Committee chairman Dr Sahruddin Jamal said the decision was reached during a meeting by the State Disaster Management Committee that had initiated a working committee tonight to look into issues related to the hazardous fumes emitted from the Pasir Gudang river.

The nine schools located in Pasir Gudang district consisted of seven primary and secondary schools, and two religious schools.

They are SK Pasir Putih, SK Kota Masai 2, SMK Kota Masai 2, SK Kota Masai 3, SMK Kota Masai, SK Kota Masai, SK Perigi Acheh, Sekolah Agama Kampung Pasir Putih and Sekolah Agama Taman Pasir Putih.

Four schools — SK Taman Pasir Putih, SMK Taman Pasir Putih, SK Tanjung Puteri Resort, and SMK Tanjung Puteri Resort — were closed earlier, bringing the total number to 13.

Dr Sahruddin said the meeting had agreed that the Johor Education Department and the Johor Religious Department will close the schools until further notice.

On the clean-up efforts, he said the meeting agreed to appoint a contractor licensed by the Department of Environment (DoE) for the job.

He said the affected stretch spans 1.5km and the clean-up will be coordinated by the Drainage and Irrigation Department and DoE.

“This is an extension of the clean-up done on March 7 and 8. The public are advised not to enter the area where the cleaning work will take place,” he said.

Dr Sahruddin said the public should also use treated water for their daily activities, adding that the people around the area should take regular baths and wash their clothes separately.

He also advised the public from carrying out any activities near the river.