Penang: Up to Putrajaya to punish IWK for water pollution

GEORGE TOWN, March 3 ― The Department of Environment (DoE) has identified Indah Water Konsortium (IWK) as among those to blame for last month’s “black” water pollution in Batu Ferringhi, and has left the matter up to Putrajaya for further action, Penang state executive councillor Chow Kon Yeow said today.
The local government and traffic management committee chairman said DOE briefed the state executive council on February 28 and confirmed that its investigation papers have been handed over to the DOE’s legal officer in Putrajaya for further action against IWK.
“DOE has identified the IWK, hawker food stalls, laundry and car wash discharge as contributing factors to the pollutants found in the river,” Chow told a press conference here.
Last month, a “black patch” of seawater, believed to have come from Sungai Batu Ferringhi, was discovered at the beachfront of tourist hotspot Batu Ferringhi. It was later learnt that the patch contained traces of the deadly E. Coli bacteria.
The waters of Sungai Batu Ferringhi were a murky black colour in early February, which the state attributed to IWK as its sewage treatment plant was located upstream.
IWK later admitted to discharging treated effluent into the river, but maintained it was not the source of the “black water”.

E. Coli bacteria was found in the ‘black water’ at Sungai Batu Ferringhi which leads to the sea of the popular tourist belt of Batu Ferringhi. — Picture by K.E. OoiE. Coli bacteria was found in the ‘black water’ at Sungai Batu Ferringhi which leads to the sea of the popular tourist belt of Batu Ferringhi. — Picture by K.E. Ooi
The river water became clear a few days after the issue was highlighted in the media, but investigations into the cause of the pollution continued.
Chow said now that the DOE has completed its probe, it was up to Putrajaya to act on the department’s findings.
When contacted, IWK senior corporate communications manager Shahrul Nizam Sulaiman said they would issue an official statement on this later.
The DOE also advised other agencies to take action against those who did not fall under its jurisdiction, such as the hawker food stalls.
On this, Chow said local agencies would carry out the necessary actions under its jurisdiction.
“We only hope that there are no interference by politicians, no demonstrations by non-governmental organisations so that at the end of the day, this would really be a “win-win” situation,” he said in a loose reference to protests by groups when the local council took action against illegal hawkers and traders.
There are six illegal stalls in the area near where the polluted waters were discovered.
Chow would not specifically confirm that the local council would take action against these stalls except that it would “do what is necessary” in accordance with the Local Government Act.