JOHOR BARU: The Johor Department of Environment (DOE) has identified the cause of the pollution at Kampung Baru Sri Aman, near Kempas here, and is conducting further investigations at the suspected premises used for lorry storage, says Environment and Water Minister Datuk Seri Tuan Ibrahim Tuan Man.
The authorities, he added, had arrested nine suspects, including the owner of the place and his workers, to assist in investigations.
"Some companies have been parking their lorries there for a long time," he said when met after visiting the scene yesterday.
Tuan Ibrahim said investigators found evidence of waste being dumped into the river.
"The culprits used pipes to channel the waste from the lorries into the river. We believe they have been doing this for a long time and usually when there was rain, causing the oily substance to flow downstream.
"Maybe this time around, the volume was too much as we see oil slugs at some branches along the riverbank," he said.
Tuan Ibrahim said the DOE had collected nine samples from the polluted river and would send them to the Chemistry Department for an analysis, with the results out in a week.
"We will be monitoring companies that are licensed to carry out scheduled waste to make sure they do not take shortcuts," he added.
Earlier, Johor DOE director Dr Mohd Famey Yusoff said they identified several factories suspected of being involved in the illegal dumping of hazardous materials near the village, causing 37 families to be evacuated.
He said the situation at Kampung Baru Sri Aman was deemed safe as findings showed that the particles in the air stood at non-dangerous levels of 0.61 parts per million (PPM).
"However, we will continue to monitor the situation for at least another 24 hours to ensure it is safe," he told reporters at the village.
Johor police chief Comm Datuk Ayob Khan Mydin Pitchay said the arrests were made near the village, under the Environmental Quality Act 1974.
Meanwhile, Johor Fire and Rescue Department director Datuk Yahaya Madis said preliminary tests carried out at a stream at the village found methyl alcohol, which produces methanol after coming in contact with water.
"Firefighters and our hazardous materials unit have put up oil booms to prevent the diesel-like substance from spreading further down Sungai Tawakal and Sungai Pandan."
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