JOHOR BARU - Johor state has instructed the Veterinary Services Department to inspect all livestock farms operating near rivers to ensure they adhere to environmental regulations.
This is to prevent further contamination that could threaten the eco-system of rivers in the state, the New Straits Times (NST) reported on Wednesday (Nov 1).
The report quoted State Health, Environment, Education and Information Committee Chairman Datuk Ayub Rahmat as saying the latest case of ammonia pollution in Johor River last Friday should be a lesson to all enforcement agencies that they must be more vigilant.
The pollution led to the shut down of three water treatment plants and disrupted water supply to 1.8 million users.
The pollution was traced to a poultry farm in nearby Kampung Murni Jaya, which illegally process fertiliser from chicken manure.
"I am not pointing fingers at any department or agency, but they must be thorough in their checks to prevent untowards incidents such as the pollution in Sungai Johor (River Johor)," the NST quoted Ayub as saying.
He said measures must be taken to ensure that farm operators adhere to the law, especially if they are located near water catchment areas.
Johor Veterinary Services Department Director Dr Aida Muhid said the state has over 778 livestock farms which are licenced and come under the Grades A to C categories under the Malaysian Good Agricultural Practices, according to the report. Another 21 livestock farms are in the Grades D and E categories.
"Some of the farms have been operating for 30 to 40 years and these farms mostly apply ...farming methods which can pose a risk to the environment. They can possibly cause river pollution, and lead to stench, noise and health issues," she said.
She said when these problems occur, the department issues a temporary stopwork order to the premises under the Poultry Farming Enactment 1997.
"A stopwork order can be up to three months as the poultry farm needs to ensure all provisions of the Malaysian Good Agricultural Practices is observed accordigly.
"They must observe all those requirements before they resume operations, or else they will be asked to shut down," she added.
One requirement, for example, requires a poultry farm to operate 500m away from residential homes, according to NST. Farms that were opened before 1997 must make sure that their premises are 200m away from residential homes.
"This is to prevent...smell coming from the farm or any other issues such as noise and health wise problems," Dr Aida was quoted as saying.
Another requirement states that rearing must be done indoor.
"The indoor facility must be equipped with bio-security measures such as proper ventilations and farm animal waste control to ensure there is no biological threats to the environment," she said.
An NST team visited the farm in Kampung Murni Jaya and found that it had affected villagers nearby.
Village head Mohd Azam Saadon said residents such as himself put up with the stench, and they have seen how heavy rain caused flooding at the fertiliser plant.
"The most recent flood a few months ago caused a ledge to collapse in front of the stockpile ponds, which contained chicken manure,'' he said, adding that the chicken faeces spill over to a canal which flows into nearby Sungai Sayong.