Putrajaya not declaring emergency over Pasir Gudang toxic fumes

Deputy Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Mohamed Hanipa Maidin told the Dewan Rakyat the federal government is already assisting the Johor government as if it was an emergency situation.. ― Picture by Yusof Mat Isa
Deputy Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Mohamed Hanipa Maidin told the Dewan Rakyat the federal government is already assisting the Johor government as if it was an emergency situation.. ― Picture by Yusof Mat Isa

KUALA LUMPUR, March 14 — The government will not declare an emergency in Pasir Gudang where hundreds have required medical treatment from inhaling toxic fumes emitted by waste dumped illegally in Sungai Kim Kim last Thursday.

Deputy Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Mohamed Hanipa Maidin told the Dewan Rakyat today that even though the government is not declaring an emergency, the federal government is already assisting the Johor government as if it was an emergency situation.

“Even though my colleague from Pasir Gudang requested the government to declare a state of emergency, I need to explain that an emergency situation requires a few levels. The first is at district government and when the district cannot handle it, it will ask the state government.

“That is the second level, if the state level is unable to handle the situation, then it will request assistance from the federal government. Right now the state government (of Johor) said it can still handle the situation.

“However, the federal government has already deployed assets and resources as if the situation has already been declared an emergency situation,” said Hanipa in his winding-up speech on the emergency motion to debate the Pasir Gudang incident today.

He said Putrajaya has already sent the police, the military, hazmat teams, fire department, Environment Department, Health Ministry and Education Ministry among other agencies.

Meanwhile, Health Minister Datuk Seri Dzulkefly Ahmad said up till yesterday there were 1,171 outpatient cases, 13 intensive care unit (ICU) cases and 384 normal warded cases due to chemical poisoning.

To date, seven of the ICU patients and 70 in the normal wards have been discharged.

He also advised the public not to observe the cleaning-up process of the river as it is still hazardous to public health.

“The public must stay away from the clean-up process of the river because we don’t want the chemical to continue spreading through the air. We have observed spikes in chemical levels depending on temperature and wind factor during the clean-up process.

“We have also never encountered such a situation before. There’s no precedent or standard operating procedure that we can use as far as I know,” said Dzulkefly, urging the public to stop spreading fake news of death when there are none.

Energy, Science, Technology, Environment and Climate Change Deputy Minister Isnaraissah Munirah Majilis said that there are 29 investigators in six teams from Johor investigating the 200-odd factories found in Pasir Gudang.

At the same time, other states have also deployed 40 investigating officers in 13 teams to assist their Johor counterparts.

The ministry has also requested assistance from the military and Petronas in terms of resources, equipment, machinery and personnel to be deployed at the location.