The Tanjung Bungah Residents’ Association is very alarmed and expresses deep concerns over the findings of very high levels of heavy metals in the sea waters off Tanjung Bungah as well as the Penang National Park in Teluk Bahang. 

According to a report in the media today, very high levels of nickel have been found with concentrations as high as 944% higher than normal levels in the sea off the Penang National Park.

According to studies done by Universiti Sains Malaysia’s Centre for Marine and Coastal Studies (CEMACS), high levels of lead were also found (above 184% of normal levels) while cadmium was 32% higher than normal.

These findings are highly alarming and have been found along the island’s north coast since last month and may be causing the death to marine life, according to Professor Datuk Dr. Aileen Tan of CEMACS.

According to media reports, Prof. Tan has alerted the authorities, including the Department of Environment and the Fisheries Department over the findings but the source of the pollution has not been determined.

Since no industrial activity and development is allowed in the Penang National Park, Prof. Tan is quoted as saying that “the only logical explanation for this pollution is that passing ships could be dumping something,” which may have been going on for sometime now, given the high levels of the metals.

TBRA echoes the concerns raised by CEMACS and we call on the Penang State Government to convene an emergency task force with all the relevant authorities involved, to address the source of the heavy metal pollution and take all necessary measures to stop the pollution, including in alerting and warning the public about the dangers of swimming in such waters.

The north coast seas of Teluk Bahang and Tanjung Bungah are popular swimming sites for both local and foreign tourists, the public is totally in the dark about the pollution.

Nickel, cadmium and lead are highly toxic heavy metals and are dangerous to humans and marine life, and it is indeed worrying that no action appears to have been taken thus far, despite the high levels of pollution found.

The Federal and State authorities must act urgently to stop the pollution of our seas and safeguard and protect both public health and the destruction of the marine life.