Pulau Burung residents not allowed to return home due to poor air quality

05 Feb 2022 03:42pm
Workers of Seberang Perai City Council (MBSP) putting out fire at the Pulau Burung landfill in Nibong Tebal on Jan 22, 2022. - BERNAMA
Workers of Seberang Perai City Council (MBSP) putting out fire at the Pulau Burung landfill in Nibong Tebal on Jan 22, 2022. - BERNAMA

NIBONG TEBAL - Residents who were evacuated to a temporary relief centre (PPS) following the fire at the Pulau Burung landfill, Jalan Byram here, have not been allowed to return to their homes even though the blaze was completely extinguished on Jan 31.

Seberang Perai Selatan District Disaster Committee (SPS) chairman Marlia Mohd Belia, who is also the SPS District Officer, said it was because it was unsafe to do so as there was still air and gas pollution that could affect the health of the residents.

She said the SPS Disaster Committee had decided not to allow residents, especially those housed at PPS Sekolah Kebangsaan (SK) Saujana Indah, namely 44 people from 10 families, to return to their homes, while some residents who had moved to relatives' houses have begun to return to their respective homes.

"We can't do anything about residents returning home at their own will. Currently, the landfill area is still declared a Level 1 disaster area," she told a press conference which was also attended by Penang Chief Minister Chow Kon Yeow.

When the fire started, about 400 residents from 90 families living near the landfill were temporarily evacuated to a safe location as the air in their residential area was filled with hazardous smoke.

State Department of Environment (DOE) director, Sharifah Zakiah Syed Sahab, who was also present, said that the air pollution index (API) in the area showed better readings but still did not reach the acceptable level and there was even more gas pollution and thus it was dangerous for residents to return home now.

"We made some observations around the area and it has shown improvement thus far because of rainfall in Pulau Burung which helped to improve the air quality. I was also informed by MetMalaysia that there will be more rain in a day or two.

"So we hope that more rainfall will improve the air and gas pollution which may allow residents to return home. Monitoring and inspections here will continue until it is completely safe," she said.

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Meanwhile, Chow said the Seberang Perai City Council (MBSP) will present a follow-up report on the incident to the state executive council next week to outline the measures to be taken, especially for the Pulau Burung landfill management company and evaluate its performance in managing the site since being appointed in 2012.

"Concession and other issues will be subject to the presentation and discussion before a decision is taken. Regarding action against the management company, it will be made after the deliberations," he said. - BERNAMA