Friday, August 21, 2015

Bauxite Mining Pahang:Seafood and Vege from Kuantan?Arsenic/Magnesium Poisoning? Safe for Consumption?

TOXIC contamination of the polluted waters of Sungai Pengorak and Pantai Pengorak near Kuantan, Pahang, is evidenced by the high content of arsenic metalloid and heavy metals in fish samples from the Gebeng coastal area tested by this newspaper’s Probes Team. Read More :

Has the Malaysian Media been 'instructed' to stop reporting about the 'bauxite mining' in Pahang, the contamination caused, the impact to public health, the impact to vegetable farmers and the fishing industry? OR, have they just decided that there is no 'news value' in stories highlighting health risks of people. I see so little media coverage after NST exposed this issue.

Yes, our New Straits Times did a great job, highlighting, amongst others, that the '...level of arsenic found in fish caught in the water sources in the area at 101.5 mg/kg is way above the permissible level of of 1mg/kg...'...Magnesium levels found were some three times higher than the tolerable daily intake for adults...'.  The Health Ministry also confirmed this stating that 'ministry’s findings from the numerous samples tested were also similar to those highlighted by the NST. “We have tested various samples. Fish, vegetables, etc. We, too, found heavy metals and arsenic in some of them.”.. The Deputy Health Minister cautioned the people to be extremely careful when consuming such fishes and vegetables.
TOXIC contamination of the polluted waters of Sungai Pengorak and Pantai Pengorak near Kuantan, Pahang, is evidenced by the high content of arsenic metalloid and heavy metals in fish samples from the Gebeng coastal area tested by this newspaper’s Probes Team. Read More :
Has the Malaysian government stopped fishing in these affected areas? Have they stopped the sale of 'contaminated' fish and vegetables? Or are they doing nothing - not bothered that we in Malaysia are continuing to consume these food - which can cause cancer,affect kidneys, diabetes, coma and even death...? 

Do we know where our vegetables and seafood come from? Personally, for safety reason, I would rather not eat any seafood and vegetables coming from areas around Kuantan and these 'bauxite mines' - why should I consume foods with such high health risk? Should have a new requirement asking retailers to state clearly where our fish, seafood, meat and vegetables are coming from? 

NST report discloses that it is no more a question of possible risks - but facts based on scientific analysis that have proven that fish(and possibly seafood) and vegetables have been contaminated possibly by the bauxite mining activity.

Health Ministry have confirmed the NST finding, and also indicated increase in health complications.. 

'...Dr Hilmi[Deputy Health Minister Datuk Seri Dr Hilmi Yahaya] said the ministry’s findings from the numerous samples tested were also similar to those highlighted by the NST. 

Department of Environment(DOE) - well, we are still waiting from them. How long does it take to collect fish, seafood and vegetable samples and check the level of arsenic, magnesium and maybe also 'radiation levels'. I am sure all testing could have been done speedily, given the fact that this is an issue of public health, - maybe in a few hours, and maybe a couple of days.

If it was me, I would have immediately ordered suspension of all bauxite mining operation pending further investigation.

Thereafter, I would ask all the relevant Ministries - Health, Environment, Agriculture and AELB - to do the necessary tests and confirm the state of pollution of our seafood and vegetables.

The 2nd question would a determination of the source of contamination.

The 3rd question would be an action plan to clean up the affected environment, rivers and seas...and put that in place. Also need will be the cost of the clean-up operation, and also the time frame.

Now, if the area is producing vegetables and seafood dangerous for human consumption - then there is also a need for proper compensation to farmers, fisherfolk and persons involved in related matters, like sellers, retailers and distribution; all will need to be compensated, or given alternatives...while we wait for the affected environment, fishes and vegetables to once again be safe -  this whole process will take years....and years.(all of which, could have been avoided if our government was doing their 'job'...)

NEXT - a determination of the 'culprits' - the person that caused the the contamination...and the taking of legal action.
- also a 'determination' of who were the corrupt public officers, who intentionally or by reason of negligence allowed this...or failed to discover this in time... we will be looking at DOE, Public Health Department,...persons who are expected to continue to do testing and monitoring of potential environmental impacts, health concerns, etc.. [Ministry of Health apparently were monitoring - but why did they not come out earlier?]

Was it the Prime Minister who determined that this should not be highlighted, or was it just the State Government that is at fault?...

If NST did not bring it to our attention, we may never have known ...well, the Media is expected to play this role. In fact all of us are expected to highlight suspected wrongs, rights violations, etc when we come across it...[If Wall Street Journal, Sarawak Report and the Edge not bring to our notice about the billions of ringgit that was paid to the Prime Minister, we will all still be in the dark about these scandals...] Thank you to the people who highlight wrongs and injustices without fear or favour....
“The increase in bauxite mining activities in recent times has contributed to the increase in a number of health complications, such as respiratory and allergy problems. This is not good in the long run, as it can lead to cancer....

Pahang’s Public Amenities and Environment Committee(Jawatankuasa Kemudahan Asas dan Alam Sekitar Negeri.) Chairman Dato' Sri Ir. Haji Mohd Soffi Bin Tan Sri Abd. Razak and his committee also certainly needs to be investigated...Covering up the facts is already wrong, coming out and 'misinforming' the public is wrong... Was there corruption here? Maybe the MACC and the police should investigate...

Only a few days earlier, however, Pahang’s Public Amenities and Environment Committee had claimed that the waters were safe, notwithstanding the reddish hue caused by bauxite sediments emanating from mining activities in the area. If the committee is to be believed, then the inference is that aquatic life there had been poisoned in only a couple of days, which is just not possible. -
Confronted with the evidence, NST observe that the 'state authorities do not appear to be overly perturbed.'

NST asked very important questions and made good observations...

For why else would the state government allow mining activity to go on in the face of such damning evidence? 

Given the scientific evidence and expert opinions insisting on the danger of consuming seafood caught from these waters, the concern is to do with actions the state will take to protect public health.

Common sense will tell any responsible authority that the right thing to do would be to suspend all mining activities pending the outcome of test results..
To be burying one’s head in the sand, as ostriches might, to not confront the issue is not constructive. The enormity of the problem demands that the liable authorities confront it with a determination that will bring about a solution.

Of course, now we know that the government did not shut down the bauxite mining operations - they are doing tests, which they allege will take about 1 month,... 

Distracting - they seem to be re-focusing facts and looking at 'radioactive levels' and AELB. Malaysians are not stupid - here we have already shown arsenic, magnesium, etc levels in fish... that itself is sufficient > no need to prove that it is radioactive as well....

Arsenic Levels - that has been proven....  (and this has has nothing to do with radioactive levels)

Now, the question is whether seafood and vegetables are safe for human consumption...

The fish have been shown to be 'dangerous' for human consumption - is it still being sold in the markets, in Kuantan, maybe in KL and other places in Malaysia?

Tell us this - because we have not heard about any government 'banning' of seafood and vegetables from the affected area... The arsenic found in the fish in the river was about 100 TIMES the safe may be safe to assume that seafood all around Kuantan in South China Sea may be affected. Even if arsenic is found to be 3 times the permitted safe level, it should be 'banned' or at least people should be made aware of this and the dangers of consuming such seafood..


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