State rep: Sodium cyanide barrels found in Pahang oil palm plantation moved for disposal

Following the discovery, Mohd Sharkar said the parties involved including the police had raided a gold mine operating in Bentong. — Picture by Ahmad Zamzahuri
Following the discovery, Mohd Sharkar said the parties involved including the police had raided a gold mine operating in Bentong. — Picture by Ahmad Zamzahuri

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KUANTAN, Aug 6 — All 15 barrels containing solid sodium cyanide found at an oil palm plantation in Karak, Bentong here on Thursday, have been moved to a safe location before being disposed of properly.

Pahang Tourism, Environment, Plantations and Biotechnology Committee chairman Datuk Seri Mohd Sharkar Shamsuddin said the transfer operation was carried out on Sunday by a contractor with expertise in the field.

The transfer process, according to Mohd Sharkar, was closely supervised by the Pahang Department of Environment (DoE), police, firefighters and representatives from the Bentong District and Land Office to avoid untoward incidents.

“There were no spills or leakages of the chemical during the transfer. All the barrels were closed and kept neatly covered from the day they were found until being moved.

“After the transfer was completed, Hazardous Material Unit (Hazmat) of the Fire and Rescue Department, Kuantan, took air readings at the oil palm plantation and confirmed there was no presence of cyanide gas vapour in the area,” he told Bernama here today.

Following the discovery, Mohd Sharkar said the parties involved including the police had raided a gold mine operating in Bentong, suspected of possibly using the chemical.

Sodium cyanide is often used in gold mining to wash the mineral.

“However, investigations found that the gold mine was not using any of the chemical found, and we are intensifying efforts to find and identify the culprit,” he said.

Commenting on the report of eight policemen falling sick after carrying out inspections at the site where the barrels were found, Mohd Sharkar said all of them were in stable condition. — Bernama

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