Hornbill Unleashed

October 25, 2016

In water pollution, no time to drag feet

Filed under: Politics — Hornbill Unleashed @ 9:01 PM

The latest FB posting by Selangor Mentri Besar Datuk Seri Mohamed Azmin Ali says he believes that the cause of the pollution of water source Sungai Semenyih is an act of sabotage, likely the work of Barisan Nasional (BN) and Umno in an attempt to undermine the state government.

Says Association of Water and Energy Research Malaysia (Awer) president S. Piarapakaran if this is an act of a person who is trying to use water as a tool for a political gain, that person should be persecuted.

“The law enforcers need to quickly determine what chemical is found in the contamination instead of politicising the issue.

“One thing needs to be taken in account is that, even if you have license to operate a facility that deals with chemicals, you can still do illegal things.

“That is why certain companies operate at a faraway location to keep these substances isolated from the mass.

“But, that in mind, they are still required to abide by a certain standard set by the Environment Quality Act 1974,” says Piarapakaran.

He points out that nobody operates business on charity basis, and treating waste is cost incurring. One way to reduce cost is to discharge waste into the rivers.

He further explains companies that actually want to cut down their cost would actually wait for the monsoon season to discharge the waste into the rivers.

“You don’t see law enforcers taking water samples during a rainy season do you? It is very difficult to trace pollutants during a raining season. With our enforcers that are always slow to act, by the time they arrive at the ‘scene’, the chemicals may have already become untraceable.

“One example if the Salak Tinggi water treatment plant where the contamination happened in 2009 but they only found the culprit in 2011.

“It is a case of, ‘you can’t expect a murderer who had committed murder to wait for the police to arrive’. One of my experience is when I reported an open burning incident, to which I got an answer of ‘kami akan hantar pegawai esok’ – we will send our officers over tomorrow. The act is happening now, why send the officer tomorrow when everything is already over? When an accident happens, the police comes as fast as possible, they don’t say ‘I’ll come tomorrow’,” he adds.

Piarapakaran cites another example where in 2009, a chemical that was released by a textile factory in Negri Sembilan.

“So if you don’t get to a testing lab in time, by the time you arrive at a lab over a certain amount of time, you won’t see anything.

“This chemical, in high concentration is able to cause lung cancer. I had then requested for the Ministry of Health to run through their database to check if there are residents in the vicinity that were suffering from lung complications.

“Until today, they have not gotten back to me. The chemical is similar to an alcohol substance, so for the Muslims who live in the area, it was as if they are consuming alcohol,” he says.

As to the current contamination of Sungai Semenyih, Piarapakaran says it islikely to be one factory.

“It is up to us how we protect our catchment area. The local authorities should have a guideline on how licenses should be granted and come out with such circular to ask them to move out or improve their waste discharge standard,” he says.

Piarapakaran also says that the government should look at a bigger picture and try to prevent these incidents from reoccurring.

“We don’t need a new Act, we just need to add a few sections in the existing Act
to enable companies to see the true cost of polluting water and would hopefully deter them from doing so.

“This is something that does not require money to make happen. Those who are at the Parliament can come up with an emergency motion for the sake of its people’s wellbeing.

“At the rate the economy is moving, I am not surprised if more dumping is going to take place.

“The Department of Environment need to think beyond what they used to 20 years ago,” he says.

Source : Soo Wern Jun@The Heat Malaysia Online


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