On Aug 10, MACC and several other agencies raided the factory after numerous complaints from nearby residents about the pollution caused by the smoke fumes emitted from the 31 open sawdust burning pits at the site
GEORGE TOWN: The controversy surrounding the illegal factory processing carbon filters in Sungai Lembu continues with fresh allegations and ‘leaked government documents’ surfacing.
A blog known as www.thethirdforce.net, which had earlier revealed a letter allegedly by the Department of Environment (DoE), has now revealed a state legislative assembly sitting written reply by state Environment Committee chairman Phee Boon Poh.
The written reply by Phee, dated April 30, 2015, in an answer to Penanti assemblyman Dr Norlela Ariffin, showed that he had knowledge of the DoE letter.
This is contrary to the Sungai Puyu assemblyman and Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng’s denial yesterday of any knowledge of the said letter.
The DoE letter, dated April 24, 2015, had stated that the department was against the factory, as it was using an outdated method and had no air pollution control system.
In the letter, DoE had also urged the Seberang Prai Municipal Council (MPSP) to take actions against the factory.
Phee, in his written reply, had allegedly said that following the complaints from the residents, DoE had carried out investigations into its premises on March 19 and March 10, 2015.
“DoE had found that the factory produced activated carbon through burning sawdust using an outdated method and it had no air pollution control system.
“Based on DoE’s assessment, the premises is not suitable to be allowed to operate at the site because of the reasons stated.
“Based on the complaints received, it had proven that the operations of the factory in the location had caused disturbances to the residents nearby,” he had said.
Since Monday, Lim and Phee had a series of press conferences in an effort to show that the state government had taken actions against the illegal factory in Sungai Lembu.
Lim had released the MPSP meeting minutes to also show that Phee had performed his duty as a state executive council in-charge of environment.
The minutes had revealed that the DoE had found no pollution at the factory, as it had barriers and prevented smoke and dust from escaping.
However, it also stated that DoE would only support the operations of the factory if it carried out the sawdust burning in an enclosed area using safety equipment
Subsequently, Lim had also released the Seberang Prai Action Committee meeting minutes, which stated that stern actions must be taken against the factory, either by the local government or Department of Occupational Safety since it lacked safety measures.
The meeting minutes, dated Sept 28, 2015, also revealed that the majority of the 11 villagers who suffered from breast, lung, gastrointestinal, liver and nasopharynx cancers, were over 50 years old, and because of their ages, led to increase cancer risks, but that the health office could not conclusively state that the factory caused these cancers.
On Wednesday, Norlela had taken to Facebook to question the state government on why it did not reveal the DoE letter and also why did it not invite the DoE director to its press conferences.
She also asked the state government to answer why did DoE seal up the factory now if there was no pollution.
On Aug 10, MACC and several other agencies raided the factory after numerous complaints from nearby residents about the pollution caused by the smoke fumes emitted from the 31 open sawdust burning pits at the site.
The raid was followed by several other raids at the MPSP licensing department as well as Phee’s office in Komtar and service centre and two houses on mainland Penang.
Phee was also subsequently arrested by MACC along with the 70-year-old factory manager and his 37-year-old son, a director.
Source: NST Online