Suspect faces multiple charges over dumping of chemical waste in Johor

A student being wheeled out of an ambulance to a hospital to seek treatment after inhaling toxic fumes. (Bernama pic)

JOHOR BAHRU: One of three men suspected to have dumped chemical waste in Sungai Kim Kim in Pasir Gudang is to be charged in court as early as tomorrow, Energy, Science, Technology, Environment and Climate Change Minister Yeo Bee Yin said.

Yeo said the investigation papers have been sent to the office of the deputy public prosecutor.

The charge under Section 34B of the Environmental Quality Act 1974 provides for a maximum of five years’ jail and a fine of RM500,000 upon conviction, she told reporters at the Pasir Gudang Municipal Council here today.

Yeo said she had been in contact with Attorney-General Tommy Thomas on the possibility of bringing multiple charges against the suspect due to the serious nature of the offence and inadequacy of the penalty.

“As the Department of Environment (DoE) has completed the investigation, we will go ahead and prosecute but it is not limited to this (environmental) law. The person can be charged under the Penal Code and, possibly, other laws, too,” Bernama quoted her as saying.

About 500 people, many of them students, have been treated after inhaling the toxic fumes emanating from the waste since the leak last Thursday.

Education Minister Maszlee Malik said 34 schools have been shut.

“I was told today that the situation is getting more critical,” he said in a statement on the ministry’s official Facebook page.

Today, at least 20 more pupils suffering toxic fume inhalation symptoms like smarting eyes, breathing difficulty and nausea were brought to Dewan Komuniti Taman Pasir Putih in Pasir Gudang, which has become a makeshift triage centre since Sunday.

Bernama observed anxious parents bringing their children to the hall for treatment.

Patients requiring further attention were taken to Hospital Sultan Ismail.