GEORGE TOWN: The Kedah government today said federal and state authorities have sealed 30 illegal recycling factories in Sungai Petani for licensing and environmental law violations, following concerns over air pollution and illegal dumping.
Environment Committee chairman Simon Ooi Tze Min said joint operations had been carried out almost every week by the Department of Environment (DoE), the Sungai Petani Municipal Council (MPSPK) and other agencies to detect illegal factories.
He said the state government had also sought the assistance of the Department of Occupational Safety and Health (DOSH) to check the health of workers in the recycling factories.
“Every week, there are raids and spot checks by DoE , MPSPK and other agencies to fine them, seal them and later charge them in court.
“Factories that were sealed by MPSPK are being monitored and those who continue to operate are fined.
“More action await those who ignore our orders to shut down,” he told FMT.
Ooi said the problem of unwanted wastes being dumped in Sungai Petani was due to unscrupulous parties importing them via Penang port.
He said five Kedah Solid Waste Corp (SWCorp) officers had been stationed in Butterworth to monitor the movement of plastic scrap from all over the world.
Butterworth is about an hour away from Sungai Petani.
It was learnt that nearly 400 containers with plastic scrap have been stranded at the port since early this year.
Recently, Sungai Petani made the headlines for being a dumping ground in the north, with many residents complaining that waste was incinerated illegally causing poor air quality levels.
“We understand and share the concern expressed by the community over pollution and its environmental impact,” Ooi said.
“It must be remembered that the air pollution issue crosses state and national boundaries and we will work with the federal government to solve this issue.”
An environmental activist group claimed that illegal factories were still operating in Sungai Petani and the larger Kuala Muda areas despite being sealed.
They blame these illegal factories for contributing to very unhealthy air quality levels, exceeding 160 on the air pollutant index (API) in some areas.