Johor–For the second time in two weeks, a river in Johor has been seriously affected by pollution. What makes matters worse is that the polluted river is a source of drinking water. The pollution has caused a reduction in the water supply, with more than 75,000 residents affected.
Ammonia pollution at the Sungai Benut river has caused the closure of a water treatment plant since March 23, Saturday.
Maszlee Malik, who is Malaysia’s Education Minister and Simpang Renggam Member of Parliament, attributed the reduction of drinking water to thousands of households to the closure of the water treatment plant.
He said, “We believe there are irresponsible people taking the opportunity to release ammonia into this river. At the same time, we are urging SAJ Ranhill to provide water through its tankers to consumers in the affected areas.
At the same time, we hope that action will be taken against the affected parties and the landfill in Ulu Sungai Benut is closed immediately.”
The landfill in Ulu Sungai Benut is one of the sources of the ammonia.
The pollution was exacerbated due to the breaking of a bund that surrounds the CEP Renggam landfill. This caused leachate to be absorbed into the ground.
This leachate comes from landfills and has a high concentration of ammonia, as well as heavy metals. Leachate is the liquid that drains or “leaches” from a landfill and can affect both groundwater and surface water.
One of the main concerns in the matter is that the ammonia may remain in the water source for a long time, as addressing leaching problems may be quite challenging, unlike the hazardous waste barrels that were relatively easily removed from Sungai Kim Kim.
According to Bernama news agency, the areas affected by the supply cut are Johor, in Simpang Renggam, Ayer Hitam, Kulai and a part of Pontian district.
The water treatment plant was visited by Datuk Dr Mohammad Ezanni Mat Salleh, State Department of Environment (DOE) director. He announced that an investigation into the ammonia pollution is being carried out, and that water samples from the Sungai Benut river have been sent to be analyzed at the Chemistry Department.
The ammonia pollution case is being investigated under Section 31 and Section 25 of the Environmental Quality Act 1974.
On Monday, the Sultan of Johor, Ibrahim Sultan Iskandar, publicly expressed concern and asked authorities to look into the pollution at Sungai Ulu Benut and the Sungai Machap river in Simpang Renggam that has caused the death of many fish.
Illegal chemical dumping in Sungai Kim Kim
In comparison, less than 6,000 people were affected by the illegal toxic chemical dumping in Sungai Kim Kim on March 7. But the situation had reached a crisis, since people were poisoned by the fumes from Sungai Kim Kim. Several were hospitalized, with people in Intensive Care Units (ICUs) of local hospitals, including some medical staff who responded to the emergency.
Additionally, all 111 schools in the area were temporarily shut down. Fortunately, there were no fatalities from the poisoning.
One Singaporean and two Malaysians have been charged in connection with the illegal dumping of chemicals into Sungai Kim Kim at Pasir Gudang. The three individuals apprehended are Singaporean Wang Jin Chao, 34, and Malaysians Yap Yoke Liang, 36, who are the directors of a company that processes used tires, as well as N. Maridass, 35, a truck driver.
The charge sheet in the case indicates that Mr Maridass has been accused of illegally dumping the chemicals into the river. Mr Yap and Mr Wang are accused of conspiring with Mr Maridass. They have all been accused of dumping chemicals in the river unlawfully, and all have pleaded not guilty to the charge when they appeared before Judge Hakim Jailani Rahman. This is just the first of the charges, with more expected.
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