3 firms with links here involved in haze, Latest Singapore News - The New Paper

3 firms with links here involved in haze

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NEA says it is closely monitoring situation but has yet to commence investigations on any company

As forest fires rage on in Indonesia, a Singapore connection has surfaced. Three Indonesian firms with offices in Singapore have been linked to the haze-belching fires.

One has links to Singapore-based Sampoerna Agri Resources. The other two, pulp giants Asia Pulp and Paper (APP) and April, have offices here.

The National Environment Agency (NEA) said it is monitoring the situation, although it has not taken any action under Singapore's Transboundary Haze Pollution Act this year.

The Act targets firms responsible for causing or condoning fires if burning results in unhealthy levels of haze here.

Those guilty can be fined up to $100,000 a day, capped at a total of $2 million.

An NEA spokesman said: "NEA is monitoring the situation closely, and will provide updates as appropriate if we commence investigations on any company under the Act."

After days of hazy conditions, rain could bring some relief. The weatherman said yesterday that showers can be expected in Singapore and Sumatra over the next few days.

But readers of The Straits Times have asked: "When rain mixes with haze, does this create a poisonous mix?"

Air quality scientist Erik Velasco told The Straits Times: "No, it isn't harmful at all. People shouldn't worry if a downpour catches them without an umbrella in the following days."

"The water used to mop our houses ends up much more polluted than the rainwater during a haze event like the current one," said Dr Velasco.

Meanwhile, the hot spot activities in Sumatra are expected to persist, and Singapore may still experience occasional slightly hazy conditions if the winds blow in haze from there.

On Sunday, Indonesian environmental news site foresthints published an article saying that fires have been detected in APP and April concessions.

Citing satellite data and information from the Indonesian government, the article said fires had been detected in APP concessions in Indonesia's Sumatra and Kalimantan islands.

In Sumatra's Jambi province, fires had been detected in Wira Karya Sakti (WKS), an APP concession. It also said the Indonesian Environment and Forestry Ministry had sealed the concession in West Kalimantan.

An APP spokesman said there had been fires within 5km of its concession boundaries in WKS, but there were none at present.

"However, a large majority were within areas allocated to the community," he said.

All APP suppliers must strictly adhere to the company's no burning policy and fire policies, the spokesman stressed.

"Should a supplier be found not adhering to this, they will be suspended pending an investigation. If there is sufficient evidence of this practice, the supplier will be terminated immediately."

The third company with links to the haze is Sampoerna Agri Resources. Earlier this month, Indonesian Environment and Forestry Minister Siti Nurbaya Bakar had named Hutan Ketapang Industri as one firm whose plantation was sealed off by the Indonesian government after fires were detected.