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Clear and present danger in Taman Suria

 | March 28, 2011

Tests by an independent lab on drain water samples in the area, occupied by a glove factory, reveals pollutants extremely unhealthy to residents

KUALA SELANGOR: An independent lab test on drain water samples taken around Taman Suria in Batang Berjuntai revealed dangerous levels of pollutants.

PKR’s public complaints bureau committee member Ahmad Bungsu Hamid Tuah made the findings known to nearly 100 residents at in a press conference yesterday.

His team took drain water, leaves, soil and air samples to be tested at Universiti Teknologi Mara’s (UiTM) research lab, accredited by the Department of Environment (DOE).

Residents of Taman Suria, on March14, alleged that Hartalega Sdn Bhd, a glove factory situated 22 metres from the residential area, had been discharging toxic fumes for years, causing them to suffer from health complications.

They also claimed that one of the boilers in the factory exploded on Jan 28, causing chemical dusts to envelope the area and its surroundings.

The factory’s deputy managing director, Kuan Mun Leong, dismissed the claims saying his company had always complied with DOE standards on health safety.

He added that none of his boilers exploded but a staff had forgotten to shut down a boiler door during maintenance work, causing non-toxic oil palm ash to shroud the area.

Earlier yesterday morning, to show how unhealthy the water was, the residents placed three catfish in the drain and all ended up dead when they took it out several hours later.

“The catfish, known to be one of the toughest fishes around, died because of the high concentration of ammonia in the water, causing its gill to fail.

“The standard emission of ammonia nitrogen set by the DOE is 20 miligram per litre. However, our tests showed the water contained 99.754 miligram per litre of the compound.

“Long term exposure to this can cause asthma and bronchitis to people,” said Ahmad.

The results showed that the drain water had high levels of suspended solid material at 23,650 miligram per litre compared to the permitted100 miligram per litre.

It also had a chemical oxygen demand (COD) of 13,091 compared to the 200 miligram per litre allowed by the DOE. High COD level refers to the lack of oxygen in the waters.

Ahmad added that the water samples also contained high levels of ferric oxide which he said can cause kidney failure.

“The permitted level is five miligram per litre but the water samples from the drains in Taman Suria showed it contained 696.82 miligram per litre,” he said.

Dangerous levels of pollution

Ahmad explained the drain water pollution would eventually poison the soil around the area due to water absorption.

“Eventually the pollutants will enter the food chain. It will also enter the sea where the poisoned fishes will be consumed by us.

“It can destroy our ecology and I’m willing to debate this matter with anyone,” said Ahmad.

He criticised the DOE for allegedly turning a blind eye to the plight of the residents in Taman Suria.

“How come DOE, with millions in allocation, cannot not make these findings but a penniless man like me can get these results?” asked Ahmad who is prepared to take the matter to court.

PKR’s public complaints bureau chief S Manickavasagam said the test results proved that the residents were being subjected to unhealthy levels of pollution.

“I have also sent air samples taken from this area for testing. The results will be made known in a few weeks,” said Manickavasagam who is also Kapar MP.

Manickavasagam promised the residents that he will take up the case and urged the people not let any minister enter the place.

“They will only come here for publicity. If the factory takes legal action against you (the residents), our legal team will meet them,” he said.

Kuan dismissed the latest findings and said his factory had always complied with DOE standards.

“All our samples are tested by an independent lab as well,” said Kuan.

He said that DOE conducts audits on his factory on a regular basis and he had not been penalised by the agency for any improper emissions from the factory.

“The residents’ report show the water’s COD level to be at 13,091 miligram per litre. It is impossible for us to reach that level as we do not handle that much chemicals,” said Kuan.

He added that though DOE allowed COD of 200 miligram per litre and 100 miligram per litre of suspended solids, he had always striven to reduce the discharge further.

“Normally, I get results of 10 miligrams per litre. At times the discharge is as low as 4 miligram per litre,” said Kuan.

Also read:

Glove firm rejects pollution charge

Gripped with fear over glove factory


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