THE proposed Environmental Protection Act (EPA) will address cross-jurisdictional issues and make clear grey areas between federal and state authorities that had inevitably “allowed” irreversible damage to the environment.
Natural Resources and Environment Minister Datuk Seri Dr Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar said among major provisions in the law, which is being fine-tuned, included federal departments being empowered to act against industries found to be polluting river reserves.
The ministry will also under the law be empowered to force illegal factories to relocate or shut down.
“Remember the Semenyih incident where the (Semenyih river) was polluted by illegal factories... When it happened, we could not act as the matter fell under the jurisdiction of the local authority... the ministry’s agencies were forced to go back and forth to the local council.
“Under the proposed law, our enforcers will have the power to compel such factories to close down or move.
“It will be clear cut and there will be no shifting of blame,” he told the New Sunday Times.
The Sungai Semenyih Water treatment plant was forced to shut down twice last year following contamination caused by pollutants released from factories in the Semenyih hi-tech industrial area.
This resulted in a prolonged water supply disruption in the districts of Hulu Langat, Kuala Langat, Petaling and Sepang.
The proposed law, he added, would also introduce a new enforcement approach, tagged as the “7 Environmental Management Tools (EMT)”, which would make it compulsory for industries and development sectors to self-regulate.
“Part of our effort is to introduce a cleaner production approach by having industries install physical monitoring infrastructure.
For example, if they discharge smoke, then it should be measured and the reading must comply with the Environmental Quality Monitoring Programme (EQMP).
“Our enforcers will ensure that the system and the regulation put in place are implemented and adhered to by industry players,” he said.
He said the ministry was also expending its role to regulate the animal husbandry industry.
“I am fed up with all those flies coming from animal farms... now, it is under the jurisdiction of the Veterinary Department and Health Ministry.
“We need to control the discharge of waste and effluents.”
Three water treatment plants in Johor were closed a few months ago due to ammonia pollution caused by an illegal poultry farm and a factory that made fertiliser using chicken manure.
The ministry, in response to this, called for enactment of laws requiring chicken farms and fertiliser manufacturers to apply for permits and be subjected to a set of regulations and penalties.