KUALA LUMPUR: As part of efforts to solve the problem of air quality in Pasir Gudang, the Malaysian government will ensure that all factories operating illegally in the area will be shut down.
Speaking in response to a supplementary question in parliament on Thursday (Jul 4), Energy, Science, Technology, Environment and Climate Change Minister Yeo Bee Yin said: "Today, I have a meeting with Johor Menteri Besar. We will do something (and) target illegal factories.
"In a month’s time, we will have an integrated operation to shut down all illegal factories in Pasir Gudang."
"I call on Members of Parliament and people in Pasir Gudang to report to the Department of Environment (DOE) any information they have about illegal factories. We will go and close them down," she added.
Yeo stressed that what was needed to solve the problem of air quality in Pasir Gudang was a paradigm shift and a different approach.
The government would also establish automated toxic gas monitoring stations as soon as possible, as well as establish some new compliance measures at industrial premises in Pasir Gudang including installing monitoring equipment, she said.
"The ministry will have a school adoption programme, especially for high-risk schools where their locations are close to the factories and these industries will provide equipment like gas detectors and air purifiers to the schools they are responsible for," she said.
Meanwhile, gas detectors were distributed to 80 schools in Pasir Gudang on Thursday, said Johor DOE director Wan Abdul Latiff Wan Jaafar, adding that detectors will eventually be distributed to all 111 schools.
“Our purpose is to educate the schools so that they can measure the air quality. In the event of early detection (high reading), early action can be taken to save students from suffering breathing difficulty, dizziness and vomiting.
“If the Volatile Organic Compound (VOC) is high, the school should notify us so that we can bring the Gasmate, a specific equipment that can measure more than 50 parametres,” he said.
Wan Abdul Latiff said the detectors would be temporarily loaned to schools until Sunday, while waiting for the industry itself to supply the tool to their respective adopted schools.
“At present, we are in the midst of discussing with industry players to make it a corporate social responsibility (CSR) to adopt schools and provide multi-gas detectors permanently to (them),” he said.
Wan Abdul Latiff said feedback was received from industry players willing to supply water purifiers to be placed in schools.
He added that teachers have been taught how to use the detectors and are required to record the air quality reading every four hours.
As of 8am on Thursday, the DOE had conducted 172 inspections on chemical factories and those handling hazardous materials around Pasir Gudang.
To date it has issued 98 compounds, 46 notices and nine stop operation orders, in addition to court action being recommended against two factories, said Wan Abdul Latiff.