JOHOR BAHRU: The Malaysian government will not approve any more applications for the construction of new chemical plants in Pasir Gudang to ensure a more sustainable development in the area, said Minister of Energy, Science, Technology, Environment and Climate Change Yeo Bee Yin.
The matter has been discussed with the Johor government, she told reporters on Monday (Jul 1).
The decision comes as authorities grapple with a pollution problem in Pasir Gudang which has sickened dozens of people.
Schools in the area were ordered to close last Tuesday, but just hours after reopening on Sunday, some students and teachers suffered breathing problems and nausea.
Authorities are still trying to determine the cause of the pollution and what's making residents ill.
There are currently 2,005 factories in Pasir Gudang, with 250 of them chemical plants, Ms Yeo told reporters after a town hall session with industry players to get feedback on immediate measures to be taken to address pollution problems in Pasir Gudang.
Following discussions, chemical factories agreed to adopt the schools nearest to their premises and provide them with gas detectors.
“We will also ensure the Department of Environment makes it mandatory for factories to provide gas detectors,’ Ms Yeo said.
The industry players, she said, were also asked to provide the necessary data on their release of water into the air and river. This is to allow the ministry to carry out loading capacity analysis on industrial areas in Pasir Gudang.
“The loading capacity analysis will take four to six weeks. After that, we may impose stricter conditions for industries in Pasir Gudang,” Ms Yeo added.