JOHOR BARU - Johor's environment officials have taken action against 38 industrial premises in the Pasir Gudang district for environment offences.
Health, Culture and Heritage Committee chairman Mohd Khuzzan Abu Bakar said on Thursday (June 27) that the factories were found to have contravened the 1974 Environment Quality Act.
"Three notices were issued to premises to temporarily halt their operations for 14 days to allow for the state's officials to conduct further investigation," Malay daily Berita Harian quoted him as saying.
Ten compound fines were also issued to errant premises for offences related to industrial effluent while another 27 compound fines were issued to factories that did not dispose of their waste on schedule.
This comes as the authorities are still investigating the cause of toxic fumes in the industrial area which resulted in dozens of schoolchildren taken ill and the closure of schools.
The toxic fumes were first reported last Thursday, when 15 students of Sekolah Agama Taman Mawar in the district suffered breathing difficulties and vomiting.
Subsequently, more students from different schools reported the same symptoms, prompting the state Education Department late on Monday night to order nearly 500 schools in Pasir Gudang to close for three days.
To date, more than 100 students from over 30 primary and secondary schools have been affected by what has been described as an "air pollution incident".
The closure has affected 347 private kindergartens, 111 primary and secondary schools, three higher education institutions and 14 private and international schools.
Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad has described the incident as "unfortunate", saying it should not have happened, especially hard on the heels of the dumping of toxic waste into nearby Sungai Kim Kim three months ago.
In March, 111 primary and secondary schools in Pasir Gudang were shut for two weeks following the illegal dumping of chemicals into Sungai Kim Kim, which flows into the Strait of Johor just north of Singapore's Pulau Ubin.
More than 5,800 people sought medical treatment after inhaling toxic fumes from the river.