JOHOR BARU — The government should be ready to seek foreign help if it fails to locate the source of the chemical pollution affecting Pasir Gudang residents, says an environmental group.
Malaysia Nature Society vice-president Vincent Chow said the latest incident of schoolchildren suffering breathing difficulties seemed to show that the pollution detectors or gadgets were either not working properly or unable to detect certain types of gases.
“Maybe we are using old or obsolete equipment which needs to be updated. How can we announce a day earlier that the air is good and schools can reopen, but then many children fall ill the next day?
“Something is really wrong with our standard operating procedure or detection methods,” he said, adding that urgent action was needed before someone got seriously hurt.
Malaysia, said Chow should seek help from the United Nations or Singapore as they would have the necessary expertise and equipment.
He feared that the local agencies had been looking at the wrong places or for the wrong chemicals.
Meanwhile, security sources said the government should immediately deploy a Hazardous Plume Dispersal Modelling Unit to Pasir Gudang to map out the area based on detailed data.
“This equipment will be able to shed light on the gases or chemicals lingering in Pasir Gudang based on its advance library of chemicals,” said the sources.
However, they added that no local agency had such equipment, which is worth millions of ringgit.
They said there was never a need for the equipment in the past as the country did not have to face such a situation where it failed to identify the source of pollution.
“All this time, the source of any chemical pollution was quickly narrowed down with the usual gas detectors,” said the sources.
The Star earlier reported that at least eight detection teams were deployed in Pasir Gudang to narrow down the source of contamination.
The teams are tasked with gathering samples every few hours. The results are then analysed by a technical committee comprising experts from various agencies.