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 Mahamad Rodzi Abdul Ghani
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 Daily Express
 Sabah oil palm mills cannot discharge waste into rivers

20/7/06 (Daily Express)  - Kota Kinabalu: Oil palm mills in the State can no longer discharge treated or partially-treated effluents into rivers or any waterway but back into the soil provided the effluents have been treated to the specification of Bio-chemical Oxygen Demand (BOD3) level not exceeding 1,000 mg/l or re-processed into compost.

New mills would have to adopt the measure immediately while existing ones would be given reasonable time to abide.

Chief Minister Datuk Seri Musa Aman said these measures came into effect after the State Cabinet on Wednesday agreed to address pollution due to palm oil effluents and wastes in Sabah's rivers as recommended by the Federal Department of Environment (DOE).

Speaking after chairing the State Cabinet at Wisma Innoprise, Musa said the Government would not allow a refinery/mill to be built near a sensitive area where its operations would bring negative impact to the area.

Sensitive areas include wildlife sanctuaries, upper part of water intake point and downstream where the river is the local community's economic source apart from having important role such as being a tourism product.

"In this respect, the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) report is applicable to study the feasibility of the new mills in sensitive areas," he said.

Musa said existing mills that had been found guilty of polluting the river would be directed to release the effluents into the holding pond or using appropriate methods that would not involve discharging effluents into waterways with a BOD3 limit of not more than 100 mg/l.

While those found to be cleaned but having sufficient land and suitable in terms of topography and porous would be encouraged to discharge their effluents into the holding pond with a BOD3 not exceeding 1,500 mg/l.

DOE would implement these measures in one-year time, which would be enforced through negotiation or during the licence renewal by the mills' operators.

In terms of monitoring and enforcement the DOE had delegated the authority to the State Environment Protection Department (EPD) to enforce the certain powers under the Environmental Quality Act 1974. "This is because DOE is having insufficient manpower to monitor all the mills," he said.

According to Musa, Sabah has 71 mills and 20 had complied in not discharging effluents and wastes into the river but into holding ponds or oxidation ponds to be re-processed.

Monitoring would be focussed on mills whose operators had been found guilty for pollution before, problematic mills in terms of its environmental management as well as those located in sensitive areas.

The measures were introduced as follow-up action to the reports by the Tourism, Culture and Environment Ministry to the Federal Government after receiving reports on the pollution in Sungai Long Tui and Sungai Segaliud by refinery mills there.

Musa said the guilty mills in this case had been directed to release their effluents discharged into a holding pond and no longer into the river, apart from being slapped with a notice to ensure that its waste treatment system is in compliance with the law.

Periodical monitoring and enforcement would be conducted on these mills.

Malaysian Palm Oil Board ( MPOB ) Lot 6, SS6, Jalan Perbandaran, 47301 Kelana Jaya, Selangor Darul Ehsan, MALAYSIA.
Tel : 603 - 7802 2800 || Fax : 603 - 7803 3533