KUALA LUMPUR: THE dumping of toxic waste in Sungai Kim Kim has apparently been happening for years.
Long- suffering residents have alerted the authorities to the matter, but it seems nothing has been done to address it.
The New Straits Times was alerted to the matter by water quality and modelling specialist Dr Zaki Zainudin, who has been monitoring the river for nearly 10 years.
“The ecological disaster of Sungai Kim Kim was a tragedy waiting to happen.
“It was an open secret that the river had been turned into a dumping site since 2012.”
Citing one of his earliest visits to the river in 2012, Zaki said locals told him about suspicious black patches flowing into the river, usually appearing at night, on the weekends and after heavy rain.
He said locals had complained about it to the authorities, including the Department of Environment (DoE), but there was no response.
“The problem has now reached a bigger scale. There were signs of illegal dumping happening all this while. People voiced their concerns, but no action was taken.
“Only when things are bad do the authorities lo ok into it.” Zaki said he last checked the river in 2017 and discovered the previously brown water of Sungai Kim Kim had turned black .
“In five years, the water had deteriorated beyond imagination,” he said, adding that an analysis of the water sample from the river showed it had zero oxygen levels with no aquatic life.
“The river is technically dead.”
Zaki said many rivers in the country were being polluted, but what happened to Sungai Kim Kim was the “fastest deterioration” he had seen.
He said the problem could have been checked in 2012 when people started to notice the illegal dumping, if not for the lethargic reaction of the authorities.
He noted that Energy, Science, Technology, Environment and Climate Change Minister Yeo Bee Yin had revealed that 25 rivers — 16 in Johor, five in the Klang Valley, three in Penang and one in Melaka — were categorised as class five.
He said Sungai Kim Kim’s rapid death was due to a cocktail of issues — illegal dumping of waste for many years, the rapid development of the Tanjung Langsat industrial area, the characteristic of the river itself and a possibly ineffective sewage treatment plant upstream.
He said companies dumping toxic waste into the river were smart as they did it in different locations and different times.
He said due to the river’s slow-moving water, the toxic waste remains in it for a long time.
On top of the toxic waste, he said, locals and experts also noticed black residue upstream near a sewage treatment plant.
“Sungai Kim Kim is much more sensitive to pollution and with the accumulated toxic discharges thrown in, the river never had a chance.”
Yeo told the Dewan Rakyat on Wednesday that toxic substances that polluted the river were linked to chemicals used to recycle tyres.
She said DoE had sent samples to the Chemistry Department for a more detailed analysis. The results, she said, found organic solvents such as delaminate, which was used in tyre pyrolysis.
The owner of a chemical factory in Kulai was arrested on Sunday in a joint operation by DoE and police. On Wednesday, the owner and a worker of a shredded waste factory from Taman Pasir Putih in Pasir Gudang were arrested.