Overflowing Leachate From Pulau Burung Sanitary Landfill Polluting Water Bodies And The Environment

Sahabat Alam Malaysia (SAM) and the Penang Inshore Fishermen Welfare Association (PIFWA) are very concerned over the critical level of leachate from a retention pond in the Pulau Burung Sanitary Landfill in Nibong Tebal, Penang.

The Penang State Government, Municipal Council of Seberang Perai (MPSP), Department of Environment (DOE), Department of Irrigation and Drainage (DID), and the Forestry Department of Penang should immediately investigate this matter because landfill leachate typically contain ammonia, heavy metals, organic compounds and other hazardous pollutants.

If the situation here persists, not only the Permanent Reserved Forest here i.e. Byram Forest Reserve will be adversely affected, even fishermen’s livelihood will be threatened due to the pollution of water bodies here.

In a survey conducted by SAM with Mr. Rousli bin Ibrahim (member and former Secretary of PIFWA) to the location, we found that the leachate pond is full, on a levee with the banks of the bund. The leachate then overflows into the mangrove forests and a DID ditch nearby. The leachate also indirectly flows into the sea eventually.

In addition to being foamy, the leachate is black in colour and stinks. We do not rule out the possibility that the spillover was caused by recent heavy rains but this issue should have been addressed by the landfill operator.

SAM is deeply concerned because most of the mangrove trees in the permanent reserved forest here are dying, probably because of the leachate.

SAM is worried that if this pollution problem is not dealt with immediately, the impact on the environment will become worse. The contractor appointed by the State Government and MPSP seems to have failed in the management and treatment of the landfill leachate according to prescribed standards. This in turn raises the question of effectiveness of enforcement and monitoring by the responsible agencies.

As such, SAM calls on MPSP, DOE, DID and the Penang State Forestry Department to take immediate action to address and resolve this problem.

Press Release, 10 May 2016