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.