By Looi Sue-Chern, 25th June 2015;
The Penang government and environmental authorities are investigating why hundreds of fish in Sungai Dondang, Paya Terubong, Penang, turned up dead earlier this week.
State local government exco Chow Kon Yeow said Penang Island City Council (MBPP) will take stern action against the party found to be responsible for the river pollution that killed some five different types of fresh water fish, including haruan (Common Snakehead) (Channa striata), eel (Swamp Eel)(?) (Monopterus javanensis) and catfish (Siluriformes).
He said there was no proof yet but the council had found three premises, which only one had permit, that could have caused the pollution.
“The council had previously issued notices to the premises, which were discharging effluent into the river but we haven’t determined whether they are the culprits yet because the state environmental department is still investigating the cause,” he said.
“When we find out who did this, MBPP will take stern action, such as shutting down the business or revoking the license.”
“We are really saddened by this incident.”
“It was only last week that we felt encouraged by the sightings of otters in Sungai Pinang.”
“It was a sign that the water quality of the river had improved,” he told reporters during a site visit in Paya Terubong.
Chow said it only showed that the level of awareness among the public and business operators was still lacking and the authorities would have to step up on its engineering, enforcement and education initiatives to prevent this from happening again.
He also said the authorities were in the process of identifying all buildings on the banks of Sungai Pinang, and the exercise would be extended to its tributaries as well.
“We also have limited resources, so our current focus on promoting behavioural change and positive transformation is on the river basin catchment areas of Batu Ferringhi and Sungai Pinang,” he said.
Sungai Dondang is one of the tributaries of Sungai Pinang, one of the main rivers on Penang Island.
The dead fish incident was reported to the authorities on Monday.
Northeast district drainage and irrigation department (DID) engineer Haslinda Mohd Hamran said the department investigated and found that the areas affected were in parts of Sungai Dondang, Sungai Air Itam and Sungai Pinang.
She said samples had been taken and sent for testing to find out what caused the fish to die.
State environmental department director Nor Hayati Yahaya said environment officers also checked the pH level of the water and found it normal.
“But we are still waiting for the chemical department report on the samples we took from the river, so we can find out whether the pollution was caused by nearby industries.”
“Industrial activities could be the source but we also must bear in mind that when we took the samples on Tuesday, the effects of the pollution reported a day before might have been lost already.”
“There have been no new incidents since we got the complaint on Monday,” she said.
Hayati said the department also checked a nearby laundry business and a factory producing vegetarian food but did not find them discharging effluent into the river.
State DID director Anuar Yahya said there had been no similar cases reported on the island before and urged the public to help the authorities by keeping an eye on the rivers.
“We don’t have the capacity to monitor the rivers around the clock and we need the public to report to us whenever something happens,” he said.