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River pollution: Johor palm oil mill suspended for 3 months

 | November 19, 2017

Effluent causes Sembrong West water treatment plant to cease operations due to high ammonia content.

Ayub-RahmatJOHOR BAHRU: The operating licence of a palm oil mill has been immediately suspended for three months for causing ammonia pollution to a raw water supply source, namely Sembrong Dam in Kluang, yesterday.

State Health, Environment, Education and Information Committee chairman Ayub Rahmat today said the suspension was to enable the mill to carry out cleaning-up work and to ensure no more discharge of effluent from the mill to the river nearby.

“We also have several conditions to be set forth for improvements to be made.

“If they fail to meet the conditions, the suspension will be extended under Regulation 4 of the Environmental Quality (Licensing) Regulations 1977.”

Ayub said this to reporters after making a surprise visit together with officers from various agencies to the mill and its effluent retention pond at Batu 3, Batu Pahat road, here, said to be the source of the pollution.

He said besides suspension, he had asked the Johor Water Regulatory Body (Bakaj) to impose the maximum compound fine of RM250,000 on the oil palm mill and to freeze its water extracting licence application.

“We hope this will serve as a lesson to this and also other factories located near water sources.

“We cannot compromise any more and need to take stern action as this is a man-made problem which affects everyone.

“We also want the public not to easily point the accusing finger (at the authorities) as this a big joint responsibility of all parties concerned towards the environment.

“If we all love the environment, together we can make this state Johor Lestari (Sustainable Johor),” he said.

Yesterday, the Sembrong West water treatment plant, supplying clean water to about 45,000 Syarikat Air Johor (SAJ) Ranhill Sdn Bhd account holders, had to shut its operations.

This came after the Sembrong Dam, which channels raw water to the plant, was found to have a high level of ammonia contamination at 20 parts per million (ppm).

This ammonia contamination was the fourth in Johor this year after the incidents affecting the Semangar, Sungai Johor and Tai Hong water treatment plants recently.

At the end of last month, the Johor government had also ordered a poultry farm and a fertiliser processing factory in Layang-Layang, near Kluang, to cease operations immediately following ammonia pollution in Sungai Johor.

Menteri Besar Mohamed Khaled Nordin said the decision was made following recommendations by eight relevant agencies, including Bakaj, SAJ Ranhill Sdn Bhd (SAJ Ranhill), the Department of Environment and the Kulai district and land office.

“We have to take drastic action. We have to make a stand.

“Anything that contributes to the pollution of Sungai Johor, we will take action.”

Khaled said the poultry farm and fertiliser processing factory had valid operating licences but the ammonia pollution from their premises was a repeat offence.

The problem affected about two million consumers in the Johor Bahru, Kulai and Kota Tinggi districts.

Johor orders poultry farm, factory closed after river pollution hits water supply


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