Johor pollution due to leftover waste in Sungai Kim Kim: Minister, Latest World News - The New Paper

Johor pollution due to leftover waste in Sungai Kim Kim: Minister

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PUTRAJAYA: Chemical waste from the same river that caused the spate of pollution-related illnesses in Pasir Gudang in March is behind the current cases, said Housing and Local Government Minister Zuraida Kamaruddin.

Initial investigations found the cleaning contractor assigned to clear the waste from Sungai Kim Kim did not do a thorough job in clearing the hazardous materials that caused the problem the last time, she said.

"As the hazardous materials have been exposed to wind and rain, the uncontrolled air borne substances may have spread and affected the people once again," Bernama reported her as saying yesterday.

Ms Zuraida said the ministry has informed the Department of Environment about the matter to ensure immediate removal of the toxic materials. The Johor government has also been informed to see to the proper disposal of the chemical waste, she said.

Schools and education centres with some 20,000 students and teachers within a 6km radius of Taman Mawar in Pasir Gudang have been ordered closed until Thursday, The Star reported.

Last Thursday about 15 students of Sekolah Agama Taman Mawar suffered breathing difficulties and vomiting.

On Sunday, students from three more schools reported symptoms. More students were affected yesterday, bringing the total number of people affected to at least 60, The Star reported.

The order issued affects all 16 primary and secondary schools there.

State Health, Culture and Heritage Committee Chairman Mohd Khuzzan Abu Bakar said the order also covered government­run religious schools, 69 kindergartens and preschools as well as Politeknik Ibrahim Sultan, which are all located within the affected area.

In Singapore, the National Environment Agency (NEA) yesterday said local air quality has remained good and has not been affected by what has been described as an "air pollution incident" which resulted in the closure of schools in the Taman Mawar area of Johor's Pasir Gudang town.

NEA said it is in contact with its counterparts in Johor's Department of the Environment, and that the 24-hour Pollutant Standards Index and the PM2.5 readings in Singapore have remained in the "good" and "normal" ranges since last Thursday, The Straits Times reported.

NEA added that the wind has been blowing over the island from the south and south-east, and that it expects this to continue for the next few days.