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AWER HAS SUBMITTED SOLUTIONS FOR PREVENTION OF POLLUTION AND WATER CRISIS TO PRIME MINISTER AND MEMBERS OF CABINET

PRESS RELEASE

Date: 08 SEPTEMBER 2020 (TUESDAY)

AWER HAS SUBMITTED SOLUTIONS FOR PREVENTION OF POLLUTION AND WATER CRISIS TO PRIME MINISTER AND MEMBERS OF CABINET

Association of Water and Energy Research Malaysia (AWER) is very concerned with the frequency of pollution incidents and impact to water services as well as a serious lack of professionalism and ethics from the government agencies involved. On 07th September 2020 (before noon), AWER has submitted letter to the Prime Minister, members of the cabinet and Chief Secretary on few immediate solutions (by this year) and long term solution (in 12th Malaysia Plan) for their immediate action.

IMMEDIATE ACTION 1: AMEND EQA TO ALLOW CLAIM FOR LOSSES

An immediate amendment to Environment Quality Act 1974 (EQA) by adding a new section must be done by the next parliament sitting to enable claim for losses by affected parties. This section can enable Department of Environment (DOE) to tabulate the loss of income and additional cost suffered by affected parties during a pollution incident. This enabler clause can also allow DOE to freeze the assets of the wrongdoer(s) to the total amount of money they owe to DOE’s lawsuit.

At the moment, the penalty and claim of clean-up cost is a very small fraction of the actual cost of pollution. Thus, it does not deter wrongdoer(s). With the proposed amendment, the wrongdoer(s) will have to pay penalty, clean-up cost and claim from affected parties that may run into few millions. Once the new section is approved in parliament, DOE can develop the detailed claim mechanism via Rules and Regulation. If all effort is put in place, we are confident this new section can be activated by 1st January 2021.

IMMEDIATE ACTION 2: IMPROVE INVESTIGATION METHOD

Wrongdoer(s) supply chain may lead to bigger or the actual culprit. DOE’s investigation methods must be improved so that incidents like Pasir Gudang pollution does not happen where actual culprits are not really known.

LONG TERM SOLUTION 1: RAW WATER TARIFF BASED ON RAW WATER QUALITY

A raw water quality based raw water tariff should also be in place to ensure state governments are receiving equitable income by protecting water catchment areas to secure raw water resources including transboundary raw water. In addition to that, protecting water catchment areas will keep the raw water quality better and reduce cost of treating water which will be translated to equitable and affordable water tariff. This tariff determination should be spearheaded by Suruhanjaya Perkhidmatan Air Negara (SPAN).

LONG TERM SOLUTION 2: A CLOSED LOPPED CHEMICAL DATABASE

Pollution incidents are increasing rapidly and it is vital that the Federal Government set up a proper database system to monitor movement of chemicals in Malaysia to ensure records are available to prevent illegal dumping. All chemicals that are harmful and produces harmful by products (after processing) must be recorded in database system. The Department of Environment (DOE) can do periodic audits and set time limits based on processing capacity to detect possible delay in waste handling. This database will also assist DOE to narrow down to the possible culprit in the event of illegal dumping. This will speed up DOE to catch culprits if illegal dumping occurs.

LONG TERM SOLUTION 3: LOCAL GOVERNMENT MUST DEVELOP MECHANISM TO DETECT TYPE OF WASTE PRODUCED

Local government must assist in the verification process for the chemical database. With training from DOE, local authority officers can assist to establish type of waste produced by a business entity (solid, liquid or gaseous). The immediate target zones are all drainage and rivers that leads to main rivers which are source of raw water for drinking and agriculture activity to be carried out between 2021 and 2022. Followed by 2 more phases to cover all rivers by 2025.

LONG TERM SOLUTION 4: POLLUTION LOADING BASED WASTEWATER STANDARD

Increase in population density and economic activities increase the pollution loading to the rivers over the years. Even if the current wastewater discharge standard by DOE is followed to the highest standard, it will not be able to reduce water pollution problem. This is because the carrying capacities of rivers are limited and lower during dry season. DOE must develop pollution loading based wastewater discharge standard to begin pollution reversal. This solution is the continuation of the long term solutions 2 and 3. It is to be carried out in 4 phases between 2023 and 2030.

In the longer run this will assist in ensuring existing water catchments at the upstream are protected. This pollution reversal method will also create new water catchments in midstream and downstream of the rivers.

LONG TERM SOLUTION 5: POLLUTION AND HUMAN HEALTH

Increase in pollution is also impacting human health. Pollutant reaches human via skin, ingestion (food and water) and inhalation (air). The degree of impact varies based on types of pollutants, frequency and dosage. Cancer is also commonly linked to many types of pollutants. Therefore, the federal government must make detected cancer cases as mandatory reporting case (both public and private health facilities). Similarly, there must be annual mandatory sampling of food (raw and processed food) to detect potential pollutant entering our food chain. We have outlined few areas of focus to ensure reliable information to assist the government.

AWER urges Prime Minister and members of cabinet consider and implement our suggestions for the wellbeing of our people and our future generations. The will power to solve the pollution problems that is causing a chaos in our country lies with the Federal Government. We are looking forward for a favourable announcement from the Prime Minister on how the Federal Government will protect the people and our economy from pollution carnage.

Piarapakaran S.
President
Association of Water and Energy Research Malaysia (AWER)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
 
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