Appeals Court awards RM100,000 damages to water supply company over water pollution claim

PUTRAJAYA – The Court of Appeal has ordered two landfill operators to pay damages of RM100,000 to water supply company SAJ Ranhill Sdn Bhd for negligence.

A three-member bench, comprising Justices Datuk Has Zanah Mehat, Datuk Che Mohd Ruzima Ghazali and Datuk See Mee Chun, made the order after allowing an appeal by SAJ Ranhill, which  operates a water treatment plant in Simpang Renggam, Kluang, Johor, to set aside a High Court’s dismissal of their claim in 2021.

In the court’s 28-page written judgment dated May 19 this year, Justice See said the court found SWM Greentech Sdn Bhd and SWM Environment Sdn Bhd liable for negligence and ordered the company to pay damages to SAJ Ranhill.

SAJ Ranhill Sdn Bhd had sued the two companies claiming that it suffered losses due to the shutdown of its water treatment plant, which happened eight times between 2016 and 2018, due to leakage of untreated effluents and leachate originating from the landfills.

The spillage has caused ammonia pollution in Sungai Benut, where SAJ Ranhill extracts raw water for treatment at its water treatment plant before distributing the treated water to consumers in Johor.

In the judgment, Justice See said SAJ Ranhill’s expert Dr Maketab Mohamed had testified that the cause of ammonia pollution in Sungai Benut on the dates of the shutdown of the water treatment plant was due to leachate overflow from the landfills.

She said Dr Maketab’s evidence on the spillage of leachate from the landfills to the ammonia pollution was supported by the evidence of the director of Badan Kawal Selia Air Johor (BAKAJ) Mohd Riduan Mohd Ali. BAKAJ had gone to the site on the dates in question to determine the source of the pollution.

Justice See also said the two companies, through a letter from their solicitors, dated April 27, 2018, admitted to incidents of leachate spillage into Sungai Benut in Nov 2016, and some instances in 2017 and in early 2018.

In the suit, SAJ Ranhill sought compensation of more than RM1.6 million for the shutdowns which included pure economic loss.

However, Justice See said the court only awarded the company nominal damages of RM100,000 as well as legal costs of RM100,000 for court proceedings in the High Court and Court of Appeal. – Bernama