Pasir Gudang schools to close till holidays

Police arrested 9 men to assist in the investigation into the illegal dumping of chemical waste

By BERNAMA

All the 111 schools in Pasir Gudang ordered to close on March 13 to keep students away from the toxic fumes of effluents discarded into a nearby river will remain closed until the upcoming one-week school holidays beginning on Friday.

This was announced yesterday by Education Minister Dr Maszlee Malik to reporters at the Pasir Gudang Municipal Council stadium that has been temporarily turned into a medic base for the treatment of people affected by the fumes.

Chemical waste discarded into the Kim Kim River had given off toxic fumes that sent about 1,000 people, many of whom were schoolchildren, to hospital and resulted in the massive clean-up of the river.

“We are looking at the precaution principle. The (111) schools will remain closed until the school holidays. We will make announcements from time to time. The reopening of the schools will be announced later,” he said.

Maszlee said the ministry has not decided yet on the replacement classes for the days the schools will remain closed.

“That will be decided later. The more pressing issue is health,” he said, adding that there will be no change in the examinations schedule.

The minister reminded the students to take care of their health during the closure of the schools.

Earlier, Maszlee was given a briefing by the relevant agencies on the status of the river pollution.

Meanwhile, the police have arrested nine men, two of them in Johor and seven outside the state, to assist in the investigation into the dumping of chemical waste in a river in Pasir Gudang, Inspector General of Police Tan Sri Mohamad Fuzi Harun said yesterday.

The police had applied to the court to have the men, who were arrested yesterday, remanded for six days from yesterday to help the police in the probe, he told reporters after the presentation of Pingat Jasa Pahlawan Negara awards at the Johor Police headquarters.

Mohamad Fuzi said the investigation will be conducted under Section 278 of the Penal Code for making the atmosphere noxious to health, under Section 284 of the Penal Code for negligent conduct with respect to any poisonous substance and under Section 326 of the Penal Code for voluntarily causing grievous hurt by dangerous weapons or means.

Meanwhile, the chemical waste pollution in the Kim Kim River has so far not seriously affected fish breeders and farmers around the location, said Agriculture and Agro-based Industry Minister Datuk Salahuddin Ayub.

He said the initial report from monitoring done by the Fisheries Development Authority of Malaysia revealed that the income of only a small number of river fish breeders were slightly affected by the pollution.

“I had asked for serious monitoring be carried out while the latest report will be announced if there is any new development,” he told a news conference after launching the paraquat ban campaign in Putrajaya yesterday.

Salahuddin said the ministry will channel the aid required if there were fish breeders and farmers whose livelihood was seriously affected by the toxic chemical waste pollution. — Bernama