Committee to manage toxic waste to be set up

Chemical pollution of Sungai Kim Kim forced 111 schools in Pasir Gudang, Johor, to close. (Bernama pic)

JOHOR BAHRU: A National Scheduled Toxic Waste Management Committee is to be established by the government to draft standard operating procedures for chemical pollution disasters, Bernama reported.

Department of Environment director-general Ahmad Kamarulnajuib Che Ibrahim said the scope and duties of the new committee were being drafted before being proposed to the energy, science, technology, environment and climate change ministry for approval.

“Among the committee’s functions will be to decide on any issues related to toxic waste management in the future.”

Recently, chemicals dumped into the Sungai Kim Kim in Pasir Gudang, Johor, caused respiratory problems for nearly 6,000 people, including schoolchildren, many of whom had to be admitted after suffering breathing difficulties.

Several directors and a lorry driver of a used tyre-processing company have been charged with dumping chemical waste into the river.

Meanwhile, students, teachers and school staff around Pasir Gudang who are still traumatised by the chemical contamination will be provided counselling, Education Minister Maszlee Malik said.

He said the counselling service, which will be carried out by school counsellors in collaboration with the Welfare Department and Sultanah Aminah Hospital’s Psychiatric Unit, will be carried out tomorrow.

“The provision of post-disaster counselling is to assist those who are traumatised by the incident.”

The minister spoke to reporters after officiating the closing of the management and administration course for the Village Community Management Council (MPKK) and Simpang Renggam Pakatan Harapan Community Leaders here today.

Earlier, Maszlee, who is also Simpang Renggam MP, conducted a post-disaster survey at SMK Pasir Gudang 1, Pasir Gudang.

He said no specific timeframe had been set for the counselling sessions, but, for a start, it would be held for the next two to three weeks, according to the level of trauma suffered by the victims.

A total of 2,510 students were affected by the incident, with 400 warded. All of them have been confirmed to have recovered.

State Islamic Religious Affairs and Education Committee chairman Aminolhuda Hassan said he was confident that teachers at all 111 schools in Pasir Gudang, which had remained closed since March 13, can cover the syllabus before the examinations.

He said teachers were professional and would know how to expedite the teaching of the syllabus.

“I am also confident that the students can follow the teaching and learning process as usual, even though they may have to rush a little bit to face the exams,” he told reporters after visiting SMK Pasir Gudang 2 here today.