Biggest shipment of toxic waste illegally transiting through Malaysia uncovered in Johor

Environment and Water Minister Datuk Tuan Ibrahim Tuan Man Environment and Water Minister Datuk Tuan Ibrahim Tuan Man shows a sample of the toxic waste found abandoned at the Port of Tanjung Pelepas. — Bernama pic
Environment and Water Minister Datuk Tuan Ibrahim Tuan Man Environment and Water Minister Datuk Tuan Ibrahim Tuan Man shows a sample of the toxic waste found abandoned at the Port of Tanjung Pelepas. — Bernama pic

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ISKANDAR PUTERI, July 19 — A total of 110 containers filled with toxic electric arc furnace dust (EAFD) from Romania were found abandoned at the Port of Tanjung Pelepas (PTP) last month.

Environment and Water Minister Datuk Tuan Ibrahim Tuan Man said the transhipment waste weighing 1,864 tonnes was reported by the PTP on June 3 and confirmed by the Department of Environment (DOE) as scheduled waste on June 15.

He said the shipment had been listed as concentrated zinc in the declaration forms.

“DOE as the Basel Convention authority (for Malaysia) has not granted approval for or received notifications from the waste exporter to transit in Malaysia,” he told reporters after inspecting the containers at Wisma Kastam PTP here today.

Tuan Ibrahim said the EAFD is classified as a toxic waste under the Basel Convention, with the scheduled waste Code SW104 under the Regulations on Environmental Quality.

DOE has contacted the Romanian Basel Convention authority to arrange for the repatriation of the 110 containers and for Interpol to conduct further investigations.

“I would like to stress that as a member of the Basel Convention, Malaysia is committed to fulfilling obligations under the convention,” he added.

According to Tuan Man, DOE, with the cooperation of the Royal Malaysian Customs Department and port authorities, had foiled 28 cases of attempts to illegally import scheduled waste in the first half of this year.

“The discovery of the EAFD, on transit in Malaysia and bound for Indonesia, is the biggest finding of its kind in Malaysian history,” he said. 

EAFD, a by-product of the steel-making industry, contains harmful heavy metals such as zinc, iron, chromium, cadmium and lead which could adversely affect not only the environment but also health, if not handled properly, said Tuan Ibrahim.

Also present during the inspection were Environment and Water Ministry secretary-general Datuk Seri Zaini Ujang, DOE director-general Norlin Jaafar and representatives from PTP. — Bernama

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