2019 Kim Kim River toxic pollution

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search

2019 Kim Kim River toxic pollution
2019 Kim Kim River toxic pollution is located in Malaysia
2019 Kim Kim River toxic pollution
2019 Kim Kim River toxic pollution (Malaysia)
Date7 March 2019; 7 months ago (2019-03-07)
LocationKim Kim River, Pasir Gudang, Johor, Malaysia
Coordinates1°27′52″N 103°56′21″E / 1.464548°N 103.939289°E / 1.464548; 103.939289
CauseDischarge of 2.43 tonnes of chemical substances from an oil tanker
Non-fatal injuries6,000 people affected; 2,775 victims received immediate treatment, 8 were treated in Intensive Care Unit (ICU)
SuspectsTwo factory owners and one worker aged around 40 to 50 years old

The 2019 Kim Kim River toxic pollution is a water pollution incident that occurred on 7 March 2019 caused by illegal chemical waste dumping at the Kim Kim River in Pasir Gudang of Johor in Malaysia. The illegal dumping released toxic fumes, affecting 6,000 people and hospitalising 2,775. Most of the victims were school students—110 schools were subsequently closed along the river.[1][2]

Background of pollution[edit]

The incident started on 7 March 2019 after several students and canteen workers from two schools near the river began to fall ill and complaining of breathing difficulties.[3] Both schools were ordered to shut down and all the victims were sent to Sultan Ismail Hospital while investigations being carried out by state health authorities over the cause.[4][5] Twenty-one people are warded at the hospital with some being admitted into the emergency unit and intensive care unit (ICU).[5] Some of the students brought at the hospital were already fainted and with symptoms such as vomiting while those who were not seriously affected were given outpatient treatment and allowed to return home.[5] While recovering, some of the seriously affected victims shared their experiences of suddenly being ill after inhaling unpleasant odour in their school compound environment.[6] The number of victims hospitalised over the toxic fumes rose to 76 by the following day and on 9 March, five police reports have been made on the issue with police began to investigating the case.[7][8]

Further spread of toxic fumes and water pollution[edit]

On 11 March, the second wave of air poisoning took effect with further 106–207 victims been hospitalised before escalating into more than 1,000 victims with eight admitted into the ICU.[9][10] The spread of the toxic fumes is aid by hot weather combined with strong wind that make more people to become sick.[10] The Malaysian Fire and Rescue Department director-general Mohammad Hamdan Wahid explained that the further spread of toxic fumes might not have re-emerged if the illegally dumped chemicals found early were immediately removed since the authorities did not dispose the chemicals after concluding it is no longer reactive, allegedly due to the costs involved.[11] Until 19 March, further 76 police reports have been made.[12] On 20 June, a number of students from schools in the Pasir Gudang area began complaining of nausea, dizziness and experienced vomiting which eventually led to the temporary closure of the schools in the area. The authorities later confirmed it as the third wave of air poisoning resulted from the river pollution which are not fully cleared.[13]

In August, residents in Acheh's Well Village who living near the Daing and Kopok rivers which is a tributaries to the Kim Kim River complaining that the waters in both rivers have turned black and oily with unbearable foul stench which are believed to have spread from the chemical pollution of the Kim Kim River.[14] A resident interviewed on the issue said the rivers was once home to various crabs, freshwater fish and shrimps with children used to swim in the waters but everything has been damaged since the pollution turned worse in April.[14][15]

Investigation, clearance works and arrestment of perpetrators[edit]

Through investigation, a lorry tanker is believed to have dumped chemical waste into Kim Kim River in early morning before the victims fallen ill.[5][16] Agencies dispatched for the cleaning-up operation of the polluted river collected 2.43 tonnes of chemical waste on the day the incident was reported.[17] The cleaning works however worsens the chemical reaction as the contractor engaged was not experienced in dealing with chemical waste.[18] A Chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear (CBRN) team from the 12th Squadron of the Royal Army Engineers Regiment of Malaysian Armed Forces were later dispatched to assist in the chemical cleaning efforts together with Hazmat team.[19][20][21]

The Johor Department of Environment (DOE) arrest an owner of a chemical factory in Kulai on 10 March followed by another arrests involving shredded waste factory owner and one of its worker in Taman Pasir Puteh in the following day after a series of investigations.[22] With the arrestment, the DOE completed its investigation papers that will be sent to the public prosecutor for further action with the investigators also have identified the illegally dumped chemical as marine oil that emitted flammable methane and benzene fumes with the oil is a scheduled waste and needs proper disposal due to its hazardous nature.[22][23] On 17 March, further nine people were arrested by police in connection to the case; two arrested in Johor Bahru while seven were arrested outside Johor Bahru area.[24] Two key suspects who are believed to be instrumental in arranging for the transportation of the toxic substances were arrested on 19 March, bringing the total to 11 with one suspect later released under bail after he is proven not related to the case.[12] The cleaning operation of the 1.5 kilometre stretch of the affected river was completed in the same day with a total of 900 tonnes of soil and 1,500 tonnes of polluted water were cleaned.[25]

Several other identified toxic gases were emitted following the interaction of the chemicals concerned with water and air include acrolein, acrylonitrile, ethylbenzene, hydrogen chloride, D-limonene, toluene and xylene which if inhaled, can cause headache, nausea, fainting and breathing difficulty.[10][26] Two main suspects comprising a Singaporean and a Malaysian were charged at the Sessions Court in Johor on 25 March for disposing chemicals illegally into the river and their company, P Tech Resources was slapped with 15 charges to which they plead not guilty. Both have been charged earlier in the same court for conspiring with a lorry driver to dispose of scheduled wastes into the river.[27]

Government and health authorities response[edit]

Johor's Sultan Ibrahim Ismail urged for immediate action taken against the perpetrators involved in the pollution of environment that endangering public lives while expressing his appreciation for the medical teams which had been working tirelessly to treat affected victims in hospital.[28] The Sultan has pledged a total of RM1 million (US$250,000) towards helping rescue agencies and authorities gather the necessary means and equipment to resolve the matter as well expressing his view that the incident shows the need for a government hospital to be built in Pasir Gudang.[29][30] Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad accompanied by Deputy Prime Minister Wan Azizah Wan Ismail who visited victims of the pollution at the hospital in Johor Bahru on 14 March said that the situation is "under control" where residents are not necessary to be evacuated from the area while telling there is possibility the country Environmental Quality Act 1974 need to be reviewed in light of the serious pollution.[2][31] The federal government has approved an allocation of RM8 million for river purification works and has ordered various agencies including the police, military and Hazmat team to support the situation in the affected area where they explained there is no request for state of emergency received from the state government of Johor.[16][32]

Johor's Menteri Besar Osman Sapian were in the opinion that the situation is under control without the need to declare a state of emergency in the area with the state government has approved an emergency allocation of RM6.4 million for the cleaning up of the affected river.[33][34] Malaysia's Environment Minister Yeo Bee Yin stressed that investigation will be carried out to bring those responsible to justice and explained the RM6.4 million is mainly used to clearing the 1.5 kilometre stretch of the affected river with further cost is expected to balloon to over RM10 million.[35][36] The state government also dismissed claims that its agencies were slow to react over the incident with the State Health Department had earlier warns the public over fake circulating news on deaths resulted from the pollution.[37][38] On 1 June, Malaysia's Health Ministry formed a medical team to examine a total of 6,000 victims affected by the pollution with the team consisting of officers from the Institute for Medical Research and Johor Health Department.[39] Malaysia's Water, Land and Natural Resources Minister Xavier Jayakumar Arulanandam urged every state governments to seriously take measures to overcome river pollution as climate change could result in the country experiencing long periods of drought in future with the ministry also will drafting Water Resources Bill to clamp down on water pollution.[40][41]

Neighbouring authorities in Singapore continue to monitoring the situation following the reports of more illegal waste dumping sites have been found in Pasir Gudang.[42] Various Singapore agencies have been conducting regular checks with a minister explained they were taking the matter very seriously as what happens in their neighbour of Malaysia can affect the latter significantly.[42]

Criticism of government response and lawsuits[edit]

Johor's Crown Prince Tunku Ismail Idris taking the matter to Twitter to express his opinion that the government should have instead declared a state of emergency on the day it was firstly occurred and relocated residents to a temporary place until there was a guarantee that the area was safe.[43] Former Prime Minister Najib Razak referring the state government slow response on the pollution and the refusal of the current Pakatan Harapan (PH) government to allocate more funds to clear the affected river were seen as they gives more importance to money compared to life and health of the people affected.[44] Malaysian Chinese Association (MCA) Deputy President Mah Hang Soon said that the incompetent preventive measures escalate hazard levels in the involved area.[45] In July, a boy are reported to developed Parkinson's-like disease of myokymia after been exposed to the pollution,[46][47] although this was denied by Malaysia's Deputy Health Minister Lee Boon Chye who said the boy had already born premature and had a history of fits since he was four.[48] A group of 160 victims of the pollution then began to filed a suit and taking the Johor Menteri Besar along with the state government to court to seek monetary compensation for the boy and other damages caused by the illegal dumping of toxic chemicals.[49]

Other responses[edit]

A chemical company Lotte Chemical Titan Holdings Bhd had denied rumours that they are involved in the pollution of Kim Kim River. In a statement to Bursa Malaysia, Lotte Chemical Titan stated in detail: "The company hereby denies rumours and wishes to announce that it has no involvement with the incident".[50] Malaysian singer Indah Ruhaila expressed concern over the incident as her parents live in the affected area where she also persuaded her parents to leave their homes, worrying of the reoccurrence of the incident.[51]

See also[edit]

Further reading[edit]

  • Sadho Ram (14 March 2019). "4 Major Updates About The Catastrophic Crisis In Pasir Gudang You Should Know". Says.com. Retrieved 16 August 2019.
  • Pui Fun (18 March 2019). "Unsung Heroes of Kim Kim River Have Been Working 24 Hours a Day to Keep Everyone Safe". World of Buzz. Retrieved 16 August 2019.

References[edit]

  1. ^ Rachel Genevieve Chia (14 March 2019). "Johor has closed 111 schools over toxic gases from a polluted river – here's the full timeline of what happened". Business Insider Malaysia. Archived from the original on 15 August 2019. Retrieved 15 August 2019.
  2. ^ a b Rachel Genevieve Chia (15 March 2019). "Johor gas poisoning victims now at 2,775, but PM Mahathir says the situation is 'under control'". Business Insider Malaysia. Archived from the original on 15 August 2019. Retrieved 15 August 2019.
  3. ^ Mohd Farhaan Shah; Venesa Devi (8 March 2019). "Dozens rushed to hospital due to toxic fumes". The Star. Retrieved 16 August 2019.
  4. ^ "30 hospitalised in Johor after being exposed to toxic waste dumped into river". The Straits Times. 7 March 2019. Archived from the original on 15 August 2019. Retrieved 15 August 2019.
  5. ^ a b c d "35 treated for chemical poisoning after illegal waste dumping in Johor's Pasir Gudang". Bernama. Channel NewsAsia. 7 March 2019. Archived from the original on 15 August 2019. Retrieved 15 August 2019.
  6. ^ Venesa Devi (8 March 2019). "Victims of toxic fumes at Johor school share their experiences". The Star. Retrieved 15 August 2019.
  7. ^ Remar Nordin (9 March 2019). "79 health cases recorded in chemical dumping incident, clean-up in two days". The Star. Retrieved 15 August 2019.
  8. ^ "Police receive five reports on dumping of chemical waste in Sungai Kim Kim". Bernama. 9 March 2019. Archived from the original on 15 August 2019. Retrieved 15 August 2019.
  9. ^ "207 people affected after second wave of chemical poisoning hits Pasir Gudang". Bernama. Channel NewsAsia. 12 March 2019. Archived from the original on 16 August 2019. Retrieved 16 August 2019.
  10. ^ a b c "Public apathy, illegal factories main causes of river pollution". Bernama. Daily Express. 21 March 2019. Archived from the original on 16 August 2019. Retrieved 16 August 2019.
  11. ^ John Bunyan (13 March 2019). "Fire and Rescue D-G: Bad move to dump toxic chemicals in Pasir Gudang". The Malay Mail. Archived from the original on 16 August 2019. Retrieved 16 August 2019.
  12. ^ a b Ben Tan (19 March 2019). "Police nab two key suspects over Sungai Kim Kim toxic pollution". The Malay Mail. Archived from the original on 17 August 2019. Retrieved 17 August 2019.
  13. ^ Siti A'isyah Sukaimi (24 June 2019). "Authorities confirm: Latest Pasir Gudang pollution caused by Sg Kim Kim toxic waste". New Straits Times. Retrieved 17 August 2019.
  14. ^ a b Mohamed Farid Noh (18 August 2019). "Sungai Daing, Sungai Kopok pula berminyak dan berbuih" [Daing River, Kopok River is now oily and foamy] (in Malay). Berita Harian. Retrieved 24 August 2019.
  15. ^ Veronica Elankovan (16 August 2019). "Another Johor River Becomes Black & Stinky Due To Toxic Waste Dumped By Nearby Factories". World of Buzz. Retrieved 24 August 2019.
  16. ^ a b Heather Chen (20 March 2019). "Pasir Gudang: How one quiet lorry sparked a toxic waste crisis". BBC News. Archived from the original on 16 August 2019. Retrieved 16 August 2019.
  17. ^ Mohd Farhaan Shah (14 March 2019). "2.43 tonnes of chemical waste collected on day dumping was reported". The Star. Retrieved 15 August 2019.
  18. ^ "Pasir Gudang chemical poisoning: What we know so far". Channel NewsAsia. 16 March 2019. Archived from the original on 15 August 2019. Retrieved 15 August 2019.
  19. ^ "Army sends CBRN unit to assist operations at site of chemical pollution in Pasir Gudang". New Straits Times. 14 March 2019. Retrieved 15 August 2019.
  20. ^ "ATM despatches two 'expert' teams to chemical waste pollution site". Bernama. 4 March 2019. Archived from the original on 16 August 2019. Retrieved 16 August 2019.
  21. ^ "Inspection on Pasir Gudang chemical plants". The Sun. 14 March 2019. Archived from the original on 15 August 2019. Retrieved 15 August 2019.
  22. ^ a b Ben Tan (12 March 2019). "Johor DOE completes probe on Sungai Kim Kim pollution". The Malay Mail. Archived from the original on 17 August 2019. Retrieved 16 August 2019.
  23. ^ "Chemical fumes in Johor's Pasir Gudang were from dumped oil waste: Report". The Straits Times. 8 March 2019. Archived from the original on 16 August 2019. Retrieved 16 August 2019.
  24. ^ Zazali Musa (18 March 2019). "Police arrest nine over Sungai Kim Kim pollution". The Star. Retrieved 17 August 2019.
  25. ^ Mohd Farhaan Shah (19 March 2019). "Sungai Kim Kim now clean, says Yeo". The Star. Retrieved 15 August 2019.
  26. ^ Goh Yan Han (16 March 2019). "Pasir Gudang chemical spill: Facts about the 9 chemicals found and their health impact". The Straits Times. Archived from the original on 16 August 2019. Retrieved 16 August 2019.
  27. ^ "Pasir Gudang chemical spill: Singaporean and company director plead not guilty to 15 charges". Bernama. Channel NewsAsia. 25 March 2019. Archived from the original on 16 August 2019. Retrieved 16 August 2019.
  28. ^ "Johor ruler demands speedy action against those who dumped chemical waste". Bernama. Free Malaysia Today. 12 March 2019. Archived from the original on 16 August 2019. Retrieved 16 August 2019.
  29. ^ "Move to declare emergency in Johor chemical dump, Sultan pledges RM1 million". Coconuts KL. 14 March 2019. Archived from the original on 16 August 2019. Retrieved 16 August 2019.
  30. ^ Rizalman Hammim (23 March 2019). "Johor Sultan: Chemical pollution case shows need for hospital in Pasir Gudang". New Straits Times. Retrieved 16 August 2019.
  31. ^ "Environmental Quality Act 1974 may be reviewed – PM". Bernama. Prime Minister's Office, Malaysia. 14 March 2019. Archived from the original on 16 August 2019. Retrieved 16 August 2019.
  32. ^ Chester Tay (14 March 2019). "No request for state of emergency from Johor Govt: Deputy Minister". The Edge Markets. Archived from the original on 16 August 2019. Retrieved 16 August 2019.
  33. ^ Rizalman Hammim (13 March 2019). "Johor MB: Situation under control, no need to declare state of emergency". New Straits Times. Retrieved 16 August 2019.
  34. ^ "RM6.4m to clean up chemical waste in Sungai Kim Kim". Malaysiakini. 14 March 2019. Archived from the original on 16 August 2019. Retrieved 16 August 2019.
  35. ^ "Situation in Pasir Gudang Under Control". Bernama. Prime Minister's Office, Malaysia. 14 March 2019. Archived from the original on 16 August 2019. Retrieved 16 August 2019.
  36. ^ Syed Jaymal Zahiid (22 March 2019). "RM6.4m just for Sungai Kim Kim chemical waste removal, says minister". The Malay Mail. Archived from the original on 16 August 2019. Retrieved 16 August 2019.
  37. ^ "Johor gov't denies being slow to react in Pasir Gudang incident". Bernama. Malaysiakini. 25 June 2019. Archived from the original on 16 August 2019. Retrieved 16 August 2019.
  38. ^ "Johor Health Dept warns of fake news about toxic fumes incident". The Star. 12 March 2019. Retrieved 16 August 2019.
  39. ^ Terence Tang (1 June 2019). "Health Ministry to examine 6,000 victims of Sungai Kim Kim toxic fumes incident". The Malay Mail. Archived from the original on 16 August 2019. Retrieved 16 August 2019.
  40. ^ "State governments urged to seriously tackle river pollution". Bernama. New Straits Times. 27 July 2019. Retrieved 24 August 2019.
  41. ^ Tasnim Lokman (29 April 2019). "Water Resources Bill to address water pollution and river problems". New Straits Times. Retrieved 24 August 2019.
  42. ^ a b "Singapore continues to monitor situation in Pasir Gudang as more illegal dumping found". Channel NewsAsia. 20 March 2019. Archived from the original on 16 August 2019. Retrieved 16 August 2019.
  43. ^ Mohd Farhaan Shah (15 March 2019). "TMJ on chemical crisis: Govt should have declared emergency from day one". The Star. Retrieved 16 August 2019.
  44. ^ Veronica Elankovan (14 March 2019). "Najib: Govt Made Unwise Decision of Not Allocating Money to Clean Polluted Johor River". World of Buzz. Archived from the original on 16 August 2019. Retrieved 16 August 2019.
  45. ^ Mah Hang Soon (24 June 2019). "Incompetent preventive measures escalate hazard levels in Pasir Gudang". Malaysian Chinese Association. Archived from the original on 16 August 2019. Retrieved 16 August 2019.
  46. ^ "Boy has myokymia after exposure to Sungai Kim Kim pollutants [NSTTV]". Bernama. New Straits Times. 4 July 2019. Retrieved 16 August 2019.
  47. ^ Ben Tan (5 July 2019). "HKL diagnoses Pasir Gudang boy with myokymia after exposure to pollutants". The Malay Mail. Archived from the original on 16 August 2019. Retrieved 16 August 2019.
  48. ^ "No evidence linking Sungai Kim Kim pollution to boy's trembling ailment, says Malaysian Health Ministry". The Star/Asia News Network. The Straits Times. 6 July 2019. Archived from the original on 16 August 2019. Retrieved 16 August 2019.
  49. ^ "Pasir Gudang pollution: 160 Sungai Kim Kim victims to sue Johor state government". Bernama. Channel NewsAsia. 8 July 2019. Archived from the original on 16 August 2019. Retrieved 16 August 2019.
  50. ^ "Lotte Chemical denies rumours of its involvement in Sg Kim Kim pollution". New Straits Times. 20 March 2019. Retrieved 16 August 2019.
  51. ^ Farhana Ab Rahman (13 March 2019). "Indah pujuk ibu bapa tinggalkan Pasir Gudang" [Indah persuaded parents to leave Pasir Gudang] (in Malay). Berita Harian. Retrieved 16 August 2019.

External links[edit]