Protest over chlo­rine leak

> Res­i­dents want fac­tory re­lo­cated af­ter suf­fer­ing health prob­lems


IPOH: Res­i­dents of Bukit Merah New Vil­lage here where a fac­tory al­legedly caused a chlo­rine leak­age and left some of them with health prob­lems want the premises to be re­lo­cated from the res­i­den­tial area.

A group of res­i­dents staged a protest rally at the fac­tory site which op­er­ates op­po­site the vil­lage.

“In the past there were leak­ages on a small scale but this time around the quan­tity was big enough to cause health prob­lems,” res­i­dent Wong Toong Chon, 49, said.

“The au­thor­i­ties should re­lo­cate the fac­tory to an in­dus­trial site in­stead of al­low­ing it to op­er­ate in the vicin­ity of a res­i­den­tial area,” he added.

In the 10am in­ci­dent on Satur­day, chlo­rine gas was re­leased into the air af­ter a tank col­lapsed which caused the fer­ric acid to spill into a pool of bleach and pro­duce the chem­i­cal re­ac­tion.

Some res­i­dents and Hazardous Ma­te­ri­als (Haz­mat) fire­men suf­fered breath­ing dif­fi­cul­ties, throat ir­ri­ta­tion, red eyes and stom­ach ache af­ter they in­haled the toxic gas.

Two fac­tory work­ers and six fire­men sought treat­ment. Perak Health Depart­ment di­rec­tor Datuk Dr Juita Ghaz­a­lie said a male fac­tory worker is on ven­ti­la­tor sup­port at the In­ten­sive Care Unity (ICU) of Raja Per­maisuri Bainun Hos­pi­tal, here.

One fire­man is hos­pi­talised and his con­di­tion is re­ported to be sta­ble.

Batu Ga­jah MP V. Si­vaku­mar, who was present at the protest, wants the au­thor­i­ties to con­duct a thor­ough in­ves­ti­ga­tion. A po­lice re­port has also been lodged. “We do not want a re­cur­rence of the in­ci­dent as there are some 1,000 houses in Bukit Merah, Men­glembu and Ta­man Badri Shah nearby,” he added.

He re­called the Asian Rare Earth fac­tory in­ci­dent in the same area in the 80s.

Emis­sion from ra­dioac­tive waste from the plant pol­luted the en­vi­ron­ment and af­fected the res­i­dents. The fac­tory, which started op­er­a­tions in July 1982, fi­nally stopped in Jan­uary 1994 af­ter a se­ries of protests and court cases.

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