IPOH, April 5 — Perak PKR chairman Farhash Wafa Salvador Rizal Mubarak urged the state government today to review mining activity near Sungai Rui after poisonous arsenic was detected in the river’s water.
Mining activities have been present in the area since 1907.
Farhash noted that Perak Education, Science, Environment and Green Technology Committee chairman Abdul Aziz Bari said yesterday there was no illegal activity involved, but called this secondary to the well-being of residents who draw water from the river.
“This must not be a ‘licence’ for any individuals to neglect the safety of the villagers nearby the river,” he said in a statement.
Apart from the mining activity, Farhash also urged authorities to review and monitor logging, farming and development activities near the area.
Yesterday, Abdul Aziz said the Mineral and GeoScience Department detected an increase in the river's pH level, but called for calm by saying the concentration of arsenic found was not alarming.
Villagers residing in the vicinity are reportedly developing skin cancer but it is not immediately clear if the issues are related.
Initial investigations revealed the cause of pollution to be mining activities near the river.
Farhash said authorities should not wait until the situation turns dire before responding, telling them to be proactive in protecting the river, environment, and those living nearby.
“Since 2016, the health report of people in Sungai Rui has been on an unsatisfactory level.
“Any situation which can harm people’s health should be monitored before incidents such as in Sungai Kim Kim in Pasir Gudang repeats,” he said.
Farhash said his party will track the issue closely to ensure there is no negligence.
Arsenic is listed as poisonous and carcinogenic by most health authorities. At sufficiently high concentrations, it can result in fatal organ failures.
The chemical is also considered an ecotoxin as it can be absorbed by a variety of plant and aquatic life.
Previously, Malay Mail reported that more than 4,000 people were affected with 111 schools closed following the chemical waste incident at Sungai Kim Kim in Johor on March 7.
Two directors of a used-tyre processing company had been charged over the disposal of scheduled wastes and air pollution in Sungai Kim Kim.