Malaysian council seals centre for causing oil spill

RAWANG - A garbage lorry maintenance centre here, which had dumped truck loads of used engine oil into Sungai Bakau, causing four water treatment plants to shut down on Friday, has been sealed by Selayang Municipal Council (MPS).

Selangor Menteri Besar Tan Sri Abdul Khalid Ibrahim said authorities had traced the contamination of the state's water source to the centre. Investigations had revealed that used engine oil had been discarded into a drain, which subsequently flowed into the river.

"The Department of Environment (DOE), Selangor Water Management Authority (Luas) and Syarikat Pengeluar Air Selangor Sdn Bhd (Splash) had traced the source of the engine oil to the garbage lorry maintenance centre," Khalid said after attending his son's wedding at Dewan Orang Ramai Bukit Badong, Bestari Jaya here yesterday.

When asked whether the owner of the centre would be charged, he said it was up to MPS.

He said the state government was aware of the dangers posed by such establishments built so close to the river and had issued notices to them since 2011.

"We had given them notices to relocate or ensure that the flow of waste from their premises is controlled. We cannot just shut down these factories as they have been operating for years."

He said the factory owners had been warned that they would be shut down if they flouted regulations.

As for the Sungai Selangor Phase 1, 2 and 3, and Rantau Panjang water treatment plants which were shut down, Khalid said the plants had resumed operations after the contamination was controlled early yesterday morning.

He said the operations at SSP1 and SSP3 from 4am to 6am yesterday had increased the water reserve levels by 5m.

He commended DOE, Luas, the state's Economic Planning Unit and Splash for working together to ensure the plants could resume operations.

MPS president Mohd Azizi Mohd Zain said the council had issued 14 compound notices to the garbage truck maintenance centre owner for various offences, including operating the centre without a licence, failure to comply with safety measures, improper drainage and chemical discharge and causing disturbance.

"He (the owner) has a lot to answer for."

He said MPS had engaged the centre as a rubbish contractor in the past.

Speaking after visiting the contaminated site yesterday, he said the owner was supposed to be present during the inspection but did not turn up.

The owner had sent a supervisor to represent him. The supervisor repeatedly answered "saya tak tau" (I don't know) when he was questioned by MPS officials.

The supervisor, however, took part in a cleaning operation conducted by Luas. It involved the removal of sludge, which was sucked out by pumps.

Luas director Md Khairi Selamat said the clean-up operation went on until 3am on Friday and six oil suction tanks were used.

"However, there are still traces of oil in the river. We hope to finish cleaning by this (yesterday) evening," he said, adding that rubbish booms along the river had also been cleaned.

He said gunny sacks, which would act as oil absorbers, had been placed around the booms.

Selangor State Secretary Datuk Mohammed Khusrin Munawi said other departments would be roped in to study the situation and to find out what other violations the centre owner could be charged with.