Pollution forces water treatment plant to close

Source: http://thestar.com.my/news/story.asp?file=/2006/10/5/nation/15632627&sec=nation

Thursday October 5, 2006

Pollution forces water treatment plant to close

BY STEPHEN THEN

stephenthen@thestar.com.my

MIRI: Taps ran dry in the Niah district after the water treatment facility there was shut down due to pollution.

The State Public Works Department (JKR) shut down the facility on Tuesday night after high quantities of black oily substances were found in the raw water.

Over 10,000 households, government offices, schools, clinics, shops and hotels at the famous Niah National Park have been affected by the shutdown.

Efforts have been made to transfer water in tankers from the treatment plant here, some 120km away.

Divisional JKR chief engineer Liew Yu Ming said the treatment plant would be closed until further notice.

It is necessary as a health precaution. Since last night, our engineers detected black oily substances in the water flowing to the treatment plant, he said.

The amount of pollutants in the water is now high. The plant gets its water from nearby rivers, which we believe have been contaminated.

We will only reopen the plant after we are absolutely sure that there is no danger to health.

Liew said the Miri treatment plant was now supplying water via tankers to the affected areas.

He said at least five tankers, each of 10,000 litres capacity, would be making daily deliveries to Niah.

We have informed the Natural Resources and Environment Board and the Department of Environment about this, he said.

Liew said the JKR officers had collected samples of the contaminated water for analysis.

Huge oil palm plantations cover the Niah sub-district.

Environmentalists have for years expressed concern at the discharge of pollutants from the plantations processing factories into underground wells and rivers.