KUALA LUMPUR: Efforts are being made to ensure that the clean-up works ongoing in Sungai Kim Kim in Pasir Gudang, Johor do not lead to any further spread of toxic waste in the air.
Energy, Science, Technology, Environment, and Climate Change Minister Yeo Bee Yin said containing the vaporisation of toxic waste as well as cleaning up the river are the main focus of the authorities at the moment.
“When the cleaning process is carried out, such as digging out the soil, there are volatile organic compounds which will vaporise into gas. This is why the spread of the chemical (methane gas) must be suppressed.
“That is why, when digging out toxic waste, it must be contained as we want to prevent the vapour from traveling further. There are gas detectors as well to monitor the level of gas let out during the vaporisation process.
“Contractors have a way to tackle this, which is by adding water to contain the vapour from spreading,” she said, noting that the hazardous material (Hazmat) team and Department of Environment (DoE) are currently monitoring the clean-up process.
Yeo said the phase two of the river clean-up is expected to complete within a week or less as four contractors will be appointed to do the works.
“There will be one more contractor to be appointed by the DoE, in addition to state-appointed contractors. This is expected to speed up the cleaning process,” she said, adding that the Meteorological Department and DoE as well as the Chemistry Department under the ministry have also been supporting the Johor government to tackle the issue.
Yeo, who is also Bakri member of parliament, advised factory operators to follow proper procedures in disposing toxic waste.
She said the DoE conducted inspections on 252 factories in the district yesterday.
“I hope factory operators with toxic waste do not panic and try to dump their waste irresponsibly in light of the checks being conducted by the DoE.
“The offence is bigger when one dumps the waste instead of keeping it. Do not create a new source (of toxic waste) in the river.
“There is no reason for factory operators to be afraid if they abide by the law,” she said, adding that police have also set up roadblocks to ensure that no illegal dumping of waste is being carried out.