KLUANG: SAJ Ranhill Sdn Bhd (SAJ) was forced to shut down another water treatment plant on Saturday due to ammonia pollution, less than a month after closing three other plants in the state for the same reason.
The Sembrong Barat water treatment plant in Kluang was shut down for about 18 hours after the raw water source at the Sembrong Dam was found to contain an excessive amount of ammonia.
"The closure affected about 45,000 account holders, or about 225,000 consumers in Kluang," said SAJ.
The source of the ammonia pollution has been detected to the effluent retention pond of a palm oil mill in Jalan Batu Pahat, here.
State Health, Environment, Education and Information Committee chairman Datuk Ayub Rahmat said the effluent from the pond flowed into Sungai Amran, which is a tributary of Sungai Sembrong.
"This caused the ammonia level at the Sembrong Dam to rise to 20 parts per million (PPM), which caused SAJ Ranhill Sdn Bhd to shut down the plant," Ayub told reporters after visiting the mill.
He said the Department of Environment (DoE), under the Environment Quality Act 1974 issued a notice for the suspension of the mill's operation licence for three months effective immediately.
"The mill is also facing a maximum compound of RM250,000 by the Johor Water Regulatory Authority (BAKAJ) under the Johor Water Enactment. BAKAJ has also frozen the mill's application to extract underground water," said Ayub.
He said the mill would have to make repairs and improvements to the retention pond before the suspension can be lifted.
"Hopefully, this will be a lesson to the mill as well as for other industry players," said Ayub.
Also present were BAKAJ director Mohd Riduan Mohd Ali and officers from the Johor DoE and SAJ Ranhill.
Meanwhile, SAJ Ranhill general manager of production and distribution Elias Ismail said the Sembrong Barat water treatment plant was closed at about noon on Saturday after excessive levels of ammonia was found in the raw water source from the Sembrong Dam.
The plant resumed operations at about 5.30am this morning.
"Water supply to the affected areas has been restored in stages. We expect the water supply to recover fully by tomorrow morning," said Elias.
Earlier this month, three water treatment plants along Sungai Johor, namely the Semangar, Johor and Tai Hong plants, were forced to suspend operations due to ammonia pollution, which was traced to an illegal fertiliser processing farm.
The closure affected two million consumers in Johor Baru, Kulai and Kota Tinggi.