MESTECC: Illegal factories in Pasir Gudang to be shut down in a month’s time

There are 6 actions of contingency to be taken by both federal and state govts, says minister

by NUR HAZIQAH A MALEK / pic by BERNAMA

AN INTEGRATED operation will be launched to weed out illegal factories in Pasir Gudang within a month.

The Ministry of Energy, Science, Technology, Environment and Climate Change (MESTECC) urged those with information on illegal factories to come forward.

Minister Yeo Bee Yin (picture) called on MPs and Pasir Gudang residents to report any information they have to the Department of Environment (DoE).

“We will go and close that factory,” she said in the Dewan Rakyat yesterday. In a verbal questioning addressed to her by MP Datuk Seri Azalina Othman Said (Barisan Nasional-Pengerang) on future contingency plans for the Pasir Gudang and Kim Kim River incidents, Yeo said there are six actions to be taken by both the federal and state governments.

“First is to enhance air quality monitoring by establishing an automated toxic gas surveillance station (real-time gas detector).

“Secondly, to purchase a mobile toxic gas measuring device like Gasmet for enforcement and monitoring purposes,” she said.

She added that the third action would be to develop a system which analyses and determines the air’s carrying capacity in the Pasir Gudang industrial area.

“Fourth, given that Pasir Gudang has become an important industrial hub in Johor, the Pasir Gudang DoE will also be established to increase regulation and enforcement in the region,” she said.

The fifth action requires MESTECC to implement new compliance actions through the DoE, which require establishments to instal the Continuous Emission Monitoring System.

“Lastly, MESTECC will hold a ‘sekolah angkat’ (foster school) programme for the industry, especially for high-risk schools near the factory, where equipment like gas detectors and water purifiers are supplied to the school,” Yeo said.

She also noted that based on their findings, the Pasir Gudang incident differed from the Kim Kim River pollution.

“The source of pollution in Kim Kim River and the victims’ location matched the water dispersion model that simulated the spread of gas according to direction and wind speed.

“But for the later incident, the locations of the cases were very far from each other and the simulation could not pin-point to a single source of pollution,” she said.

Additionally, the chemicals from the Kim Kim River incident were identifiable in the blood and urine of victims, which matched the source of pollution, while the toxicology tests for the Pasir Gudang case were negative for all 85 samples from 42 students.

“The students at the beginning of the Kim Kim River incident showed symptoms when the gas detector was high.

“While for the Pasir Gudang case, most students showed signs of breathlessness and nausea during the day before or when the detector was normal,” she said.

To date, 172 industrial premises have been inspected, of which 98 compounds were issued with 46 warning notices and nine premises were detained.

A total of two court action recommendations have been issued.

Yeo added that the carrying capacity factor is also being refined, which will take six weeks to be completed.

“Currently, Pasir Gudang has a total of 2,005 licensed factories and 250 of them are chemical-based.

“Therefore, it can be said that the air environment there is saturated, and any anomaly would affect high-risk groups, including children and those with asthma,” she said.

Meanwhile, to continue the monitoring process, 111 schools will be provided with a gas detector for air quality observations.