PETALING JAYA: A company and a lorry driver have been fined RM320,000 and RM100,000 respectively over a major pollution incident at Sungai Kim Kim, Johor, in 2019 which left more than 2,700 people in hospital.
The environment department said in a statement that lorry driver N Maridass and P Tech Resources Sdn Bhd pleaded guilty in the sessions court in Johor Bahru.
Maridass was meted the maximum penalty of RM100,000 for causing the pollution. Investigations found that he had released scheduled waste into Sungai Kim Kim using a lorry and semi-trailer, without a licence from the department, the statement said.
P Tech Resources was fined RM320,000 after pleading guilty to eight charges of failing to notify the director-general on any work that may result in a source of emission, failing to maintain the air pollution control system at its premises, and failing to maintain records of its manufacturing processes, among others.
The company was fined RM40,000 on each charge, which totalled to RM320,000.
The charges against the lorry driver were made under the Environmental Quality Act 1974 while those against the company came under the Environmental Quality (Clean Air) Regulations 2014.
The toxic pollution incident in 2019 shocked the nation when many schoolchildren and canteen operators collapsed after experiencing dizziness, nausea and vomiting.
A total of 2,775 people, mostly schoolchildren, were taken to hospital, and 110 schools near the river were forced to close. A total of 1,500 tonnes of river water was needed to clear the 900 tonnes of toxic sludge from the area.
In 2019, P Tech Resources and two of its directors, Yap Yoke Liang and Wang Jing Chao, were charged under the Environmental Quality (Clean Air) Regulations 2014.
Maridass was reportedly charged with illegally disposing of the toxic waste while Yap and Wang were also charged with conspiring with the lorry driver.