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Sg Kim Kim pollution: Victim still suffering from impact on health, villagers decry forgotten promises

Publish date: Sun, 03 Dec 2023, 04:59 PM

JOHOR BARU: The mother of a victim of the Sungai Kim Kim toxic waste pollution described the punishment imposed on the culprits as 'inadequate' compared with the devastating impact on her child's health.

Norlela Abu Hashim, 50, said her son, Irfan Wafiy Idham Wazir 16, is currently suffering from Myokymia, a condition that causes several limbs to tremble and relies on a walking stick due to exposure to toxic waste while studying at school.

She said while she did not question the court decision, she could not help but feel that it seemed lenient for the severity of the crime committed by offenders.

"Our family, especially Irfan Wafiy, suffers both mentally and physically as he has to bear the effects of this disease, resulting in frequent trembling, especially in his legs.

"Irfan can only stand briefly without the walking stick due to weak nerves in his legs.

"As a mother, I am very saddened to see Irfan, who used to be active in sports at school, now becoming quiet due to the illness he is enduring," she said when contacted today.

She also questioned whether fine punishment is appropriate when perpetrators can easily afford it, compared to the suffering Irfan will endure for his entire life.

Meanwhile, Hadlisuri Rabu, 50, a resident of Kampung Bukit Pulai, where Sungai Kim Kim flows, also expressed dissatisfaction with the punishment against the offenders, saying that it does not justify the trauma experienced by the residents.

"At the time of the incident, my daughter, Nana Sofia, was only a few days old but was affected by frequent coughing and difficulty breathing, requiring referral to Hospital Sultan Ismail for follow-up treatment.

"I still remember several nearby residents, including pregnant neighbours, fainting during the incident, causing panic and chaos, as many experienced symptoms of shortness of breath and vomiting upon inhaling the extremely foul and concentrated odour.

"Although residents were promised protection, including compensation for those treated in hospitals and whose health was affected, it (the promise) has passed by (forgotten) just like that, and my daughter is now five years old," she said.

A lorry driver was reported to have been fined a maximum of RM100,000 for causing pollution involving the illegal disposal of scheduled waste into Sungai Kim Kim, Pasir Gudang, Johor, in 2019.

The Department of Environment (DOE) said in a statement today that N. Maridass was found to have released oil sludge, a scheduled waste listed in the First Schedule of the Environmental Quality (Scheduled Wastes) Regulations 2005, into the river.

It said P Tech Resources Sdn Bhd, which faced eight charges under the Environmental Quality (Clean Air) Regulations 2014, was also fined RM40,000 for each charge, making it a total of RM320,000.

The cases against Maridass and P Tech Resources were tried together and a total of 38 witnesses were called to testify.

The DOE stated that P Tech Resources Sdn Bhd, facing eight charges under the Environmental Quality (Clean Air) Regulations 2014, was also fined RM40,000 for each charge, making the total fine RM320,000.

The chemical waste pollution incident on March 13, 2019, affected the health of over 2,000 members of the public and led to the closure of 111 schools in Pasir Gudang.

It is believed to be a result of the dumping of toxic waste into Sungai Kim Kim on March 7, shocking the nation when 947 people were treated, with nine of them placed in the Intensive Care Unit at Hospital Sultan Ismail (HSI).

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