Village folk staying near Pulau Burung landfill fire evacuated, landfill operator may face the music

RESIDENTS from two villages near the Pulau Burung landfill that caught fire on Wednesday (Jan 12) have been evacuated to two schools, 10km away from the burning site, this morning.


Chief Minister Chow Kon Yeow said they (from Kampung Bryam and Kampung Kebun Baru) were relocated to the temporary shelters following advice from the Department of Environment because of the bad air quality.


“The decision to relocate them is for their health and safety until the situation improves.


“Efforts to put out the fire continue. But the challenging part is that there is no water supply at the landfill.


“Hence, we need to use lorries to transport water tanks to the site for it to be pumped to the affected smouldering areas. Overall, the smouldering areas have become smaller compared to the beginning but thick smoke is still there,” Chow said when asked by reporters on the update of the fire situation at the landfill.


He had earlier launched the ceremony of the 50th anniversary of Penang’s industrialisation at the Penang Development Corporation in Bayan Baru today.


Asked if action would be taken against the landfill operators, Chow said they would discuss the matter at the coming state executive meeting.


“I have asked the Seberang Perai City Council and the Local Government to furnish their reports.


“The worst-case scenario is to terminate the contract of the operators but we will not make any hasty decision. The day-to-day operation of the landfill is not easy,” said Chow.


He said phase three of the landfill operation had started last year but due to technical problems, phase one and phase two, which were supposed to be closed and surrendered to MBSP, were still used.


Chow added that although the rain that fell at about 4am this morning was not heavy, it still helped the situation.


He also revealed that the authorities plan to instal galvanised iron pipes into the affected areas so that water could be poured into the bottom of the garbage to help extinguish the unrelenting smoke.


“It will still take several days for the situation to be restored to normal. But the fire, although under control now, may flare up with gust of wind,” Chow said.


Story by K.H. Ong

Pix by Law Suun Ting

Video by Noor Siti Nabilah Noorazis