Strange sludge washes up at Batu Ferringhi beach

Pictures showing the extent of dirt brought by polluted seawaters in Batu Ferringhi Beach near the Holiday Inn Hotel on Monday evening.

GEORGE TOWN: The waters off Penang’s popular Batu Ferringhi beach appeared to have been heavily polluted since Sunday, disappointing many tourists and visitors for depriving them of a weekend dip in the sea.

An FMT reader noticed that a strange dark murky liquid resembling cement washed ashore bringing with it, a horrid smell. The reader, who is from Subang Jaya, was on holiday at a beach hotel. He showed FMT some video clips that he shot of waves bringing thick, grey silt as they crashed on the shore.

Traces of what appeared to be oil and black mud could be seen on the sand as the waves rolled back.

“It is really bad. Our hotel advised us to not go to the beach,” said the man, who is in his 60s.

Checks by FMT earlier this morning showed that the waters appeared to be normal, with no signs of foul smell as claimed.

However, a water sports worker, who declined to be named, said the situation on Sunday was quite bad, saying the smell was close to an open sewer.

He then showed a spot where some of the remnants of the dark liquid which had washed ashore, near the Pantai Mas portion of the beach. “It rained last night and some of this dirty water had gone away,” he said.

A group of Environment Department officers came this morning to inspect the beach and found the mysterious greyish-black mud left behind by the dirty seawater yesterday.

State executive councillor Phee Boon Poh, responsible for the environment, said the officers had scooped up the sludge and had sent them to be tested. “The water quality appears to be okay,” Phee said, “but we have taken samples of that as well. The officers have combed the entire beach from one end to the other.”

He said the department believed the sludge was brought in by big waves. “There were no oil traces and no smell as claimed,” he said.

The appearance of the sludge comes a week after Phee had alerted the media last Saturday about the apparent dumping of “used oil” into the Teluk Bahang foreshore. He did not say how large the spillage was but said a large-scale investigation was being carried out in the area.

Sahabat Alam Malaysia president Meenakshi Raman has urged the authorities to disclose the lab results as soon as possible. She said further checks should be made to ensure if the water is safe for swimming and an advisory notice should be made to inform all beach-goers of inherent risks.