Johor DOE completes probe on Sungai Kim Kim pollution

A factory in the Pasir Gudang Pasir Putih industrial area that was responsible for illegally dumping chemical waste into Sungai Kim. — Bernama pic
A factory in the Pasir Gudang Pasir Putih industrial area that was responsible for illegally dumping chemical waste into Sungai Kim. — Bernama pic

JOHOR BARU, March 12 — The Johor Department of Environment (DOE) has completed its investigation papers that will be sent to the public prosecutor soon on the illegal dumping of toxic chemicals into Sungai Kim Kim that sickened over 250 people and forced the closure of 13 schools.

The investigation team will also charge two companies operating the factories that were responsible for illegally dumping the chemicals that are considered scheduled waste into the river in Pasir Gudang.

Johor DOE director Mohammad Ezzani Mat Salleh said the investigations were done within a 24-hour period involving three male suspects aged between 40 and 50 who were arrested yesterday.

“The DoE investigation team are satisfied with the probe and have recorded evidence from three suspects who had also verbally admitted their involvement in the illegal dumping of chemical waste into Sungai Kim Kim last Thursday,” he said when contacted by Malay Mail today.

It was learnt that the DOE investigation team had also seized several items related to the case from two separate factories in Kulai and also in Pasir Gudang which will be used as evidence.

Mohammad Ezzani said the state DOE will submit the investigation papers to the Public Prosecutor’s Office by this week.

Based on the investigations, he said they have received positive feedback that there are grounds to charge the suspects in court.

“We are waiting for the green light to submit the papers and also haul the suspects and the two companies to court.

“We investigated 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,” said Mohammad Ezzani.

During the incident on Thursday, DOE investigators identified the illegally dumped 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.

Following investigations, the DOE arrested the owner of a chemical factory in Kulai on Sunday, followed by yesterday’s arrest of the owner and a worker of a shredded waste factory in Taman Pasir Puteh in Pasir Gudang.

* Editor’s note: Malay Mail wrongly reported earlier that the Johor Department of Environment has already sent investigation papers to the public prosecutor. The error has since been corrected.