PUTRAJAYA, June 24 (Bernama) -- The recent incident in which schoolchildren in Pasir Gudang, Johor suffered breathing difficulties, was due to chemical waste from Sungai Kim Kim, said Housing and Local Government Minister Zuraida Kamaruddin.
According to her, initial investigation found the cleaning contractor assigned to clear the waste did not do a thorough job in clearing the hazardous materials.
“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,” she told reporters at the ministry’s ‘Jalinan Mesra’ programme with Fire and Rescue Department (JBPM) staff here today.
According to media reports, the Johor government had instructed 17 schools, 69 kindergartens and preschools as well as a higher learning institute involving 20,108 students to be closed for four days beginning from today until Thursday as a precautionary measure.
Elaborating, Zuraida said the ministry has informed the Department of Environment (DOE) on the matter and 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.
Meanwhile, JBPM director-general Datuk Mohammad Hamdan Wahid said the department’s investigation found the air quality reading in the area still at a poor level, despite being quite a distance from Sungai Kim Kim.
He said JBPM would continue to collaborate with DOE, local authorities and the state government in managing the situation and would keep the public informed of the latest developments.