Sahabat Alam Malaysia (SAM) urges the Johor government and the Department of Environment (JAS) to take stern action against the culprits who dumped chemicals into Sungai Kim Kim near Pasir Gudang which had affected the health of students and school canteen workers in the surrounding yesterday.
In the incident, 35 victims were reported to have experienced breathing difficulties, vomiting and with some fainting upon inhaling what is believed to be methane gas.
SAM is of the opinion that a heavy punishment should be meted on the perpetrators in relation to their offence as they have severely impacted public health and the environment.
Under Section 34B of the Environmental Quality Act 1974 the maximum fine of RM500,000 and imprisonment for a period not exceeding five years can be imposed on any person who contravenes the Section.
SAM is upset and concerned with this incident as not only was the river polluted and aquatic life is threatened but also public health has been jeopardised, and some of them are in critical condition.
Apart from school students, residents of Taman Pasir Putih and Kota Masai nearby Sungai Kim Kim also felt that their health has been affected and are worried about the pollution.
Hence, SAM hopes that a thorough investigation is conducted by the state government and relevant departments to identify those guilty of the offence and breaking rules that are stipulated in the Environmental Quality Act 1974.
Findings of the investigation and actions that is to be taken must be disclosed to the public so that they are aware of the actions taken by the authorities to overcome this issue.
SAM also urges the Local Authority, Department of Environment and Irrigation and Drainage Department to conduct frequent surveillance to ensure such incidents do not happen again in the future.
S.M. MOHAMED IDRIS