Johor Chemical Gas Crisis Worsens, Residents Fled To Safety

As the Pasir Gudang chemical gas pollution worsens, a number of families are leaving the affected neighbourhood to escape the hazardous fumes emitting from Sungai Kim Kim. The crisis at Sungai Kim Kim, which began last Thursday, worsened last night and has now forced the closure of all 111 schools in the area and made 975 people sick.

What's more devastating is the fact that Johor Menteri Besar Osman Sapian insisted that the situation does not warrant a need to declare a state of emergency despite the catastrophic crisis continues to wreak havoc as of today. Meanwhile, the Dewan Rakyat has approved an emergency motion for the federal government to declare a state of emergency.

According to Energy, Science, Technology, Environment and Climate Change Minister Yeo Bee Yin, results from the samples sent to the Chemistry Department shows they contain organic solvents used in tyre pyrolysis (a method for recycling old tyres by heating up whole or shredded tyres in a reactor vessel).

The Johor Department of Environment (JDE) had detained two factory owners and a worker, all in their 50s, on March 11 over their suspected involvement in the dumping of the chemicals. All three have admitted to their involvement, but have yet to be named pending prosecution in court. The suspects were to be charged at the Magistrate's Court in Johor Baru this morning, 14 March, under Section 34B of the Environmental Quality Act 1974. However, the prosecution has postponed the case pending further investigation. If found guilty, the suspects will only be jailed for five years max or fined RM500K.

Johor ruler Sultan Ibrahim Ibni Almarhum Sultan Iskandar has pledged RM1 million (S$331,000) in aid to help the authorities in their efforts in handling the chemical pollution crisis. Permaisuri Johor Raja Zarith Sofiah Binti Almarhum Sultan Idris Shah said the ruler was deeply saddened by the tragedy as he was listening to an audio recording of a crying man pleading for help for his child.

RM6.4 million has also been allocated by the Johor state government as an emergency fund to clean up Sungai Kim Kim.

In the meantime, South Korean chemical company Lotte Chemical Titan Holding Bhd is providing its assistance and expertise to help ease the chemical pollution in Pasir Gudang.  The company has vast experience in chemical incidents, and is willing to help in the clean-up once the type of chemical that caused the pollution has been identified.

Tentang YunFila

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