Wednesday, January 22

Santubong MP takes Yeo to task over recent statements

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KUCHING: Santubong MP Datuk Seri Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar has hit out at Minister of Energy, Science, Technology, Environment and Climate Change Yeo Bee Yin, who stated that her ministry would review the system following its alleged failure to alert authorities about the illegal dumping of toxic waste in Sungai Kim Kim in Johor in March and other such incidents.

“Her reported statement is not only irresponsible for the minister – to state that the system has failed – but it also shows her lack of understanding of the system,” said Wan Junaidi, who is former Natural Resources and Environment Minister when the federal cabinet was under the Barisan Nasional (BN) coalition.

“In her own previous statements, she declared that the government was unable to ascertain what was causing the Pasir Gudang incident. She should know that the Environmental Quality Monitoring Programme (EQMP) system could not monitor toxic waste-dumping.

“Furthermore, the statements in the report are flawed and appear malicious to discredit the previous government. The EQMP was designed for specific purposes. The parameters to be monitored were determined by the government (Department of Environment, or the DoE). The EQMP has been delivering its intended outputs since it commenced operation.”

From the perspective of procurement, the concession was awarded to a consortium of companies that was selected through an open tender process. The technical specifications were developed by DoE. The legal and commercial aspect of the tender and procurement was conducted professionally by the Public-Private Partnership Unit, added Wan Junaidi.

“The EQMP was designed by the DoE to monitor ambient air, river and marine environment in Malaysia using globally applied methodology, with selected key environmental quality parameters,” he said.

“It includes a manual programme where river and marine water samples are collected once in every two months to be analysed for key water quality parameters. In addition, the EQMP also includes automatic monitoring stations that provide near real time data.

“These stations consisted of 65 air quality monitoring stations, 30 river monitoring stations and 10 marine water quality monitoring stations. The air quality monitoring stations generate Air Pollution Index (API) that is available to the general public through APIMS.

“The 30 river automatic stations are located upstream of intake points at major rivers in Malaysia.”

These stations act as early warning system and, from time to time, they had provided early indication of pollution incidents.

The parameters measured at all the manual and automatic stations (air, river and marine) are the major indicators of the environmental quality as listed in the National Air, River and Marine Water Quality Standards.

With regards to the recent incident at Sungai Kim Kim, this river is part of the EQMP manual river water quality monitoring programme. Hence, samples are taken once every two months. Sungai Kim Kim does not have automatic station – in other words, there is no water intake at this river. Nevertheless, the data from the manual programme collected since the EQMP started has clearly indicated the polluted status of this river.

With regard to the air quality issue at Pasir Gudang, the parameters measured in the automatic air quality stations do not include the toxic gases, which are identified by using other equipment used by government agencies as far as DoE is concerned.

The automatic air quality monitoring stations in the EQMP are designed to measure the key air quality parameters applied and monitored elsewhere globally.

Wan Junaidi concluded that the EQMP, as designed by DoE and implemented contractually by Pakar Scieno TW Sdn Bhd, provided data related to key environmental quality parameters for ambient environment and was not meant to detect toxic gases that were observed at Pasir Gudang.

“It should be noted that there are thousands of chemicals existing in the whole world including Malaysia, and there is no single national-based environmental programme that can detect all of them.

“To address the issue of air pollution at Pasir Gudang, a specific air pollution monitoring network has to be established focuses on the specific area,” said Wan Junaidi.