GEORGE TOWN: A smouldering landfill near Nibong Tebal has spurred the evacuation of some 400 residents, as toxic fumes have affected seven neighbourhoods adjacent to the area.
The Penang government has set up two evacuation centres and has urged 86 families to leave their homes after environment department officials sounded the alarm over harmful air quality.
The areas include Kampung Ladang Byram, Kampung Changkat, Kampung Bagan Buaya, Kampung Titi Hitam, Kampung Pengkalan, Kampung Jawi and Desa Jawi.
About 16 acres of the 40-acre Pulau Burung landfill caught fire on Wednesday afternoon (Jan 12). The fire was brought under control the following day.
The state executive councillor for welfare and environment, Phee Boon Poh, said the district disaster committee would shelter residents at a temporary centre 7km from the landfill.
Seberang Perai South district officer Marlia Mohd Belia urged the people to wear face masks at all times and abide by evacuation instructions.
Chief minister Chow Kon Yeow hoped the relevant authorities would increase their surveillance and management of the landfill, which is the main dumping ground for household waste. It is operated by a private company under a licence from Seberang Perai city council.
The grounds caught fire twice last year, in February and July, but the current fire appears to be the worst so far.
Penang produced over 1.25 million tonnes of waste in 2019, with 535,000 tonnes being recyclable items. State government data showed that an average of 1,800 tonnes of waste are dumped at Pulau Burung every day.