Close polluting landfills to safeguard public health

For over a month, the smelly tap water supplied to some parts of the Klang Valley has attracted a lot of adverse opinion from the public, mostly against the various authorities.

The rumour mill had it that leachate from sanitary landfills could be one of the suspected causes.

With fingers pointing in every direction, the general public was both confused and angry.

Now, finally, the failure to construct leachate treatment facilities by the operator of the Bukit Tagar landfill was reported to be one of the reasons for the foul smell in the tap water, the Parliament was told. (The Star, March 30)

Now that Deputy Minister of National Resources and Environment Datuk S. Sothinathan had bared all the facts in the Parliament in the March 29 session, immediate action by the authorities to prevent another occurrence of supply of smelly water to the public is needed, apart from the legal action by the Attorney General's Chambers against the culprit as suggested by the Deputy Minister.

Let's be frank, legal action will take time to be concluded. Even if the prosecution is successful, the defaulting company may only be fined in court and/or a director imprisoned.

No big deal! Consumers may still have to brace themselves for yet another round of smelly water.

The Bukit Tagar landfill, planned to cater for solid waste disposal for the Klang Valley for 40 years, was built a short while ago based on a "state-of-the-art" design. Granted that this is so, why did the authorities allow this landfill to commence operation before the leachate full treatment facilities are completed and operational in the first place??

The Bukit Tagar landfill is not the only one that has the potential to leach lethal pollutants into Sungai Selangor. In the Sungai Selangor river basin, two others, the Bukit Sentosa landfill and the Kundang landfill are allegedly being operated without any leachate treatment facilities at all.

We are in total agreement with members of Parliament Datuk Isnail Sabri Yaacob and Dr. James Dawas Mamit in their concerted calls in the Parliament for the polluting landfills to be closed down immediately pending their compliance with environmental requirements.

As the public's health cannot be compromised, do the water consumers really have any other option? or choice?

Absolutely none in this case!

1. The above was jointly prepared by me and LCC.
2. An edited version was published in The Star on 5/4/06. 2007