PUTRAJAYA - The Malaysian Cabinet was told on Wednesday (June 26) that toxic fumes that sickened dozens of people in Pasir Gudang district in Johor had nothing to do with the earlier pollution of Sungai Kim Kim, a river located in the area.
Deputy Prime Minister Wan Azizah Wan Ismail said that after investigating all possible indicators, the authorities found no link between the two incidents, New Straits Times (NST) reported.
The investigations included taking the victims' urine and blood samples, she told reporters after attending the weekly Cabinet meeting.
The victims vomited and had breathing difficulties after inhaling the fumes, whose origins the authorities have yet been unable to pinpoint.
"The relevant authorities will continue their investigations to identify the source of the problem by collecting more samples from rivers and the surroundings near the schools," she told reporters, as quoted by NST, after attending an event.
Housing and Local Government Minister Zuraida Kamaruddin on Monday initially linked the latest incident to the earlier Sungai Kim Kim pollution, saying investigations by the fire department, which comes under her jurisdiction, showed that the cleaning contractor assigned to clear the waste from the river did not do a thorough job. She backtracked a few hours later and said the two incidents were not related.
The Wednesday Cabinet briefing over the latest Pasir Gudang air pollution, that has again alarmed residents, was provided by the Energy, Science, Technology, Environment and Climate Change Ministry.
More than 100 students were affected last week and early this week by the noxious fumes and all educational institutions have been ordered to be closed since the latest incident, which appeared to be similar to the Sungai Kim Kim incident in March.
Meanwhile, the government will set up automated pollutant monitoring stations in Pasir Gudang, Energy, Science, Technology, Environment and Climate Change Minister Yeo Bee Yin told a news conference.
The March pollution affected more than 6,000 residents. The fumes were later identified as being caused by the illegal dumping of chemicals into the river.
Two company directors including a Singaporean and a lorry driver from a used tyre processing factory were charged at the Johor Baru court in March with 15 offences under two environmental regulations.