SOP needed to deal with chemical disasters, says Sungai Kim Kim science committee head

Prof Abdull Rahim Mohd Yusoff, who is a Universiti Teknologi Malaysia (UTM) science faculty dean, urged the government to establish a standard operating procedure (SOP) for dealing with hazardous chemical disasters. — Picture by Roysten Rueben
Prof Abdull Rahim Mohd Yusoff, who is a Universiti Teknologi Malaysia (UTM) science faculty dean, urged the government to establish a standard operating procedure (SOP) for dealing with hazardous chemical disasters. — Picture by Roysten Rueben

KOTA ISKANDAR, March 20 — The government has been urged to establish a standard operating procedure (SOP) for hazardous chemical disasters in light of the Sungai Kim Kim incident in Pasir Gudang, an academic said today.

Universiti Teknologi Malaysia Science Faculty Dean Prof Abdull Rahim Mohd Yusoff, who heads a scientific committee formed to look into the incident, said there was currently no SOP to deal with such situations.

“We have an SOP when it comes to natural disasters such as floods, but when comes to incidents involving chemical pollution, we do not have one.

“After the incident in Sungai Kim Kim, there is an urgent need for such guidelines that the authorities can follow,” said Abdull Rahim on the sidelines of a media briefing today.

The Sungai Kim Kim incident led to about 4,000 people being hospitalised after they inhaled the fumes emitted by the illegally dumped chemical waste.

Abdull Rahim said his committee had also suggested that a comprehensive air quality monitoring system be put in place in and around Pasir Gudang.

“This is due to the fact that Pasir Gudang is an industrial area and a system to monitor toxic gases must be implemented,” he said.

Yesterday, Energy, Science, Technology, Environment and Climate Change Minister Yeo Bee Yin said the polluted section of Sungai Kim Kim had been cleaned up and the area was now safe.

She said the authorities will, however, continue to monitor the situation at the site for the next 15 days.

“The cleaning work by the contractors that started on March 13 and ended on March 17 saw a total of 900 tonnes of contaminated substance and 1,500 metric tons of contaminated water cleared,” Yeo had told a press conference.

The toxic pollution in Sungai Kim Kim began on March 7 after a group of students were hospitalised from inhaling fumes emitted by the waste.

All 111 schools in Pasir Gudang have been closed until further notice.

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