Environment and water minister vows to come down hard on polluters, following nine arrests in Johor chemical fume case

Environment and Water Minister Datuk Seri Tuan Ibrahim Tuan Man visits the affected river at Kampung Sri Aman September, near Seelong in Kulai September 15, 2021. — Picture by Ben Tan
Environment and Water Minister Datuk Seri Tuan Ibrahim Tuan Man visits the affected river at Kampung Sri Aman September, near Seelong in Kulai September 15, 2021. — Picture by Ben Tan

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JOHOR BARU, Sept 15 — The Environment and Water Ministry has vowed to throw the book at polluters here.

Its minister Datuk Seri Tuan Ibrahim Tuan Man acknowledged that cases of pollution are still reported in Johor Baru and he gave the example of the Sungai Kim Kim toxic fume incident that occurred about two years ago.

“The Johor Department of Environment (DoE) has identified the cause of the pollution and is conducting a probe into a lorry storage facility, which is the suspected source.

“Nine suspects, including the facility owner and his workers, have been arrested to assist investigations under Section 34B of the Environmental Quality Act 1974,” he said when met after visiting Kampung Baru Sri Aman near Seelong in the Kulai district today.

Tuan Ibrahim said that the facility is also used by other companies to park their lorries that have not been operating for a long period of time due the pandemic.

He said further investigations at the facility revealed that pipes were used to channel chemical waste from the lorries into the river.

“Investigators believe that the suspects have been dumping waste in this way for a long time and they will usually wait for rain before doing so,” he said.

Tuan Ibrahim explained that the waste is dumped upstream and usually flows downstream aided by the rain.

“However, this time, the volume of waste may have been high as some oily residue was seen on branches along the riverbank at the facility,” he said.

Tuan Ibrahim also the Johor DoE has collected nine samples from the river and these will be sent to the Chemistry Department for analysis.

He said the results will only be known in about a week’s time.

“The ministry will also continue to monitor companies that have permits to carry out scheduled waste disposal to ensure that this is properly disposed of and not indiscriminately dumped,” he said.

Earlier, Kampung Sri Aman was partially evacuated after strong fumes, reportedly detected since late last night, made two villagers faint and caused discomfort to hundreds of others.

The fumes are believed to be from liquid methyl alcohol, which is a colourless and poisonous substance that emits a strong odour.

Environment and Water Minister Datuk Seri Tuan Ibrahim Tuan Man visits the affected river at Kampung Sri Aman September, near Seelong in Kulai September 15, 2021. — Picture by Ben Tan
Environment and Water Minister Datuk Seri Tuan Ibrahim Tuan Man visits the affected river at Kampung Sri Aman September, near Seelong in Kulai September 15, 2021. — Picture by Ben Tan

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