Skip to main content

Advertisement

Advertisement

Malaysia wants illegal chicken farms and fertiliser manufacturers prosecuted

JOHOR BAHRU — The Malaysian environment ministry on Monday (Oct 30) called for the full weight of the law to be brought to bear against operators of illegal chicken farms and fertiliser manufacturers that pollute water sources, after three water treatment plants in Johor was closed over the weekend due to ammonia pollution.

Malaysia wants illegal chicken farms and fertiliser manufacturers prosecuted

An illegal poultry farm that makes fertiliser using chicken manure has been found to be the source of ammonia pollution in Sungai Johor that led to the temporary shutdown of three water treatment plants. Photo: New Straits Times

JOHOR BAHRU — The Malaysian environment ministry on Monday (Oct 30) called for the full weight of the law to be brought to bear against operators of illegal chicken farms and fertiliser manufacturers that pollute water sources, after three water treatment plants in Johor was closed over the weekend due to ammonia pollution.

At the same time, Johor executive councillor Hasni Mohammad told TODAY that they will take legal action against the owners of an illegal organic fertiliser processing factory, identified to have caused the temporary closure of the plants.

Natural Resources and Environment Minister Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar said chicken farm operators and fertiliser manufacturers should be blacklisted to stop them from forming other companies which can cause harm to the people and the environment.

He also called for enactment of laws requiring chicken farms and fertiliser manufacturers to apply for permits and be subjected to a set of regulations and penalties.

“The ministry is greatly concerned about the welfare of the people and takes a very serious view when illegal factories and farms pollute our waterways and environment for their own gain,” he said in a statement made available to TODAY.

“This blatant disregard for the lives of the people ... is appalling, to say the very least.”

Malaysian media reported over the weekend that an illegal poultry farm and a factory that makes fertiliser using chicken manure have been found to be the source of ammonia pollution in the Johor River.

The permissible exposure limit for ammonia set by the Malaysian Health Ministry is 1.5 parts per million (ppm). The ammonia level in Johor River reached 2.75 ppm during the incident.

The high level of pollution forced the temporary shutdown of the three water treatment plants since Friday (Oct 27), and led to water supply disruptions affecting 1.8 million people in Johor Bahru.

Water supply was finally restored around midnight on Sunday (Oct 29).

Confusion, however, has arisen on who exactly caused the shutdown of the plants.

Mr Wan Junaidi fingered the illegal poultry farm, saying that his ministry’s Department of Environment had directed the farm to relocate its operations away from the river in July last year because it was polluting the waters but the operators “totally ignored” the directive.

His ministry cannot do much about it as permits for farms are issued by the Department of Veterinary Services, which comes under the purview of the Agriculture ministry.

The owners however “did not bother” to apply for the permit, said Mr Wan Junaidi.

As such, he called for the chicken farm to be “closed permanently” and the Johor local authorities to “expeditiously” prosecute the farm owners for jeopardising livelihood of people in the vicinity.

But Mr Hasni and Johor Department of Veterinary Services (VSS) head Dr Aida Muhid said the chicken farm was legal.

It is an adjacent fertiliser processing plant that caused the ammonia pollution on Johor river, they said.

“The factory will have to cease operations immediately. We will not entertain any appeals from them as this is not the first time they were found to have caused a similar incident,” said Mr Hasni, adding that state authorities will also keep a close eye on the farm to ensure it does not discharge any waste into the river.

In July last year, the same fertiliser processing plant was partly responsible for another ammonia pollution incident in Johor River that affected the water supply to 600,000 people.

Mr Hasni said following the July incident, the plant’s operators had assured the state government that it will apply for a proper licence and ensure its operations complied with the necessary requirements.

“Unfortunately before they could complete their application, this latest incident took place,” he said.

As such, Mr Hasni said while the plant can try to relocate its operations to a different location, the state’s water regulatory body will go ahead to take “necessary action” against the operators, including hauling them to court.

VSS’ Dr Aida told TODAY the plant was supposed to upgrade its facilities by building more storage areas for the chicken waste and fertiliser as well as a buffer wall to prevent cross contamination with nearby water sources.

“We suspected fertiliser stored near the structures could have flowed into the river during recent rains,” she said, adding that her officers are still probing the matter.

Read more of the latest on

Advertisement

Popular

Advertisement

Stay in the know. Anytime. Anywhere.

Subscribe to get daily news updates, insights and must reads delivered straight to your inbox.

By clicking subscribe, I agree for my personal data to be used to send me TODAY newsletters, promotional offers and for research and analysis.

Aa