PASIR GUDANG, June 24 — The latest air pollution episode that has sickened dozens of people is not linked to the previous pollution of Sungai Kim Kim, Johor Mentri Besar Datuk Dr Sahruddin Jamal said today.
He explained that this time round the incident, which is believed to involve air pollution via fumes, was from a different source.
“All the waste from the previous Sungai Kim Kim has been disposed through an incinerator on April 8.
“The cause of the latest case in Pasir Gudang is still under investigation,” said Dr Sahruddin in a media conference at the Pasir Gudang Municipal Council indoor stadium here today.
Present was Health Minister Datuk Seri Dzulkefly Ahmad, Energy, Science, Technology, Environment and Climate Change Deputy Minister Isnaraissah Munirah Majilis and senior state excos.
Earlier today, Housing and Local Government Minister Zuraida Kamaruddin had reportedly said the recent incident in Pasir Gudang was due to leftover waste in Sungai Kim Kim.
She has since corrected her statement and said she was now informed that the affected areas had been thoroughly cleaned up since the dumping of toxic waste in the river last March.
Dr Sahruddin said investigations into the cause of the incident in Pasir Gudang will involve 30 chemical-related factories in the area.
“There is a total of 265 chemical factories in Pasir Gudang, but our focus will be on the 30 factories.
“The authorities have ordered the Department of Environment (DoE), municipal councils and Department of Occupational Safety and Health (DOSH) to start an integrated operation and to detain those factories who are involved in the alleged incident involving chemical fumes,” said Dr Sahruddin.
He added that the cause of the fumes is believed to be from chemical waste, where the relevant parties will be tasked with their disposal.
“As a precautionary measure, the air quality monitoring is done periodically three times daily according to the humidity, temperature, direction and speed of the wind for morning, noon and night.
“To date, the monitoring radius has been extended to 15km,” said Dr Sahruddin.
Meanwhile, Isnaraissah Munirah explained that the air pollution which caused 16 schools to close had no similarity with the one in Sungai Kim Kim.
“All the waste from the previous case has been processed through an incinerator.
“During that time, we identified the waste dumps in the river that flowed down stream,” she said.
Isnaraissah Munirah assured the public that the current case was still under investigation.
She explained that the fumes dispersed through the process of evaporation as a result of the hot weather and topographical conditions here, causing it to be brought by the southwest monsoon winds.