JOHOR BAHRU, March 11 (Bernama) -- Two schools in Pasir Gudang were ordered to be closed for the second time in five days after several students complained again of breathing difficulty due to what is believed to be inhalation of toxic chemical fumes.
Sekolah Kebangsaan (SK) Taman Pasir Putih and Sekolah Menengah Kebangsaan (SMK) Pasir Putih had reopened today after they were ordered to be closed last Thursday when students fainted, vomited and suffered breathing difficulty following the inhalation of methane fumes from chemicals dumped into Sungai Kim Kim near the schools.
Johor Health, Environment and Agriculture Committee chairman Dr Sahruddin Jamal said the schools would remain closed until a decision is made by the Johor Disaster Action Committee.
“As of 12.30 pm today, eight students were sent to the Sultan Ismail Hospital and 10 others were administered treatment at the schools and a nearby hall,” he told reporters at the Taman Pasir Puteh Hall that has been turned into a temporary operations centre.
Dr Sahruddin also examined and administered first aid to the students who had experienced breathing difficulty.
Earlier, a group of reporters and photographers who had followed Dr Sahruddin and Department of Environment (DoE) officers to Sungai Kim Kim were shocked over the chaos at the two schools as several students complained of breathing difficulty and vomited.
Asked whether it was related to air pollution, Dr Sahruddin said various factors could have been the cause but the real reason had yet to be identified.
“The DoE and HAZMAT (Hazardous Materials) Unit had conducted an evaluation and verified that the situation was safe … but the schools contacted us to say the students had breathing difficulty and so on,” he said.
Dr Sahruddin said a contractor has been appointed to clean up the chemical waste in the river over a stretch of 1.3 kilometres beginning today, and the work was expected to take five days.
In KUALA LUMPUR, Education Minister Dr Maszlee Malik gave the assurance that the ministry will continue to monitor the developments at the two schools.
He also said that the ministry is committed to carrying out the cleaning work to ensure that the schools are safe for the students to resume classes.
"We receive reports every hour from the State Education Department and the relevant agencies including the DoE, Civil Defence Force and Fire & Rescue Service,” he told reporters after the announcement of the Sijil Tinggi Persekolahan Malaysia (STPM) examination results in Seri Kembangan.