Three factories identified as likely sources of Pasir Gudang pollution — DOE

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JOHOR BAHRU (July 18): The Department of Environment (DoE) has identified three chemical-based factories as the likely sources of the air pollution in Pasir Gudang last month

The department’s director-general Norlin Jaafar said all three factories were found to have high levels of methyl mercaptan readings and were located within a three-kilometre radius of Sekolah Agama Taman Mawar and Sekolah Kebangsaan Pasir Gudang 4.

Students from the two schools were among the first to be affected during the incident. They had symptoms such as vomiting, nausea and shortness of breath.

“The three factories will stop operations. We are also in the process of completing our investigation before we take action and prosecute them,” Norlin told reporters at the Johor DoE headquarters here today.

The factories were among the 257 other chemical factories that the department had inspected between June 20 and July 1.

She said the presence of the methyl mercaptan, a colourless gas with a distinct odour, at 134 particles per million (ppm) was above the 40 ppm permissible level of the DOE.

It was one of the three substances that were detected in the area. The others were acrylonitrile and acrolein but the reading of the two gases were too low to trigger symptoms such as vomitting and breathing difficulties, said Norlin.

“From the preliminary records of the Pasir Gudang Municipal Council and the State Land and Mines Office, there were 18 illegal factories operating in Pasir Gudang.

"The rest will be checked later and action will be taken by the relevant agencies," she said.

Earlier, Norlin urged the public to come forward with information on pollution cases as the department was offering a reward of RM5,000.

She added that the identity of the informers would not be revealed.