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Author: savemalaysia   |   Latest post: Mon, 24 Feb 2020, 8:50 PM


Six questions about: Pasir Gudang chemical dumping

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KUALA LUMPUR, March 14 — As of today, the illegal dumping of toxic waste into Sungai Kim Kim in Pasir Gudang, Johor has forced the closure of all 111 schools in the area and made 506 people sick.

Out of those, 166 people have been admitted into hospital while nine of them are critical. No deaths have been reported as yet.

A budget of RM6.4 million to handle the clean up the 1.5-km stretch of the river has been approved, Energy, Technology, Science, Climate Change and Environment Minister Yeo Bee Yin announced yesterday.

She added that the Department of Environment (DOE) has licensed a company to begin the clean up that was to start last night. Two more contractors will be assigned to the task to speed up the process.



Why are these chemicals toxic?

Exposure to high quantities of methane reduces oxygen levels in the body and can result in organ damage, including to the brain and heart, as noted by the Canadian Center for Occupational Health and Safety. Methane gas can also irritate the eyes.

Benzene, on the other hand, causes cell dysfunction, according to the United States’ Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). For instance, it can alter blood levels of antibodies; leading to the loss of white blood cells, causing damage to the immune system; and preventing bone marrow from producing enough red blood cells, which can lead to anemia.

Acrylonitrile in particular is extremely dangerous as it is highly flammable and toxic at low doses. The flammable material releases fumes of hydrogen cyanide and oxides of nitrogen. The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) classifies it as a Class 2B carcinogen — or “possibly carcinogenic”.

The CDC said hydrogen cyanide impedes the normal use of oxygen in almost every organ of the body, and can be deadly. It affects all bodily systems especially organ systems sensitive to low oxygen levels: brain, heart and blood vessels, and lungs.

Both acrylonitrile and acrolein are strong irritants for the skin, eyes, and nasal passages, said the CDC and Ullmann's Encyclopedia of Industrial Chemistry.



Who is responsible for the atrocities?

On March 11, Johor DOE said it detained two factory owners and a worker who are all in their 50s, who a day later verbally admitted their involvement. They have yet to be named by authorities, pending their charges in court.

An illegal factory owner who was supposed to be charged at a Magistrate’s Court in Johor this morning under Section 34B of the Environmental Quality Act 1974, but the prosecution has since postponed the case pending further investigation.

Johor Mentri Besar Datuk Osman Sapian said yesterday that a task force, consisting of several related agencies and departments, has been tasked to investigate the root cause of the pollution.


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