SELCAT Hearing on Raw Water from the Mining Ponds in Bestari Jaya
1.0 Where and what?
- Bestari Jaya is an ex tin mine, it ceased tin mining operations in the 90s. The nearest town is Kuala Selangor and these ponds are next to the Unisel campus.
- There are over 100 ex-tin mine ponds in the area. These ponds are of various sizes. The Sungai Ayer Hitam runs alongside these ponds and this river then connects to Sungai Udang and finally to Sungai Selangor.
- Water from the mining ponds is already flowing into Sungai Selangor from rain run-off. The ponds are also mostly interconnected below the land/water surface.
- Raw water from this area is then processed at the Sungai Selangor Dam Water Treatment Plant.
- Is the raw water safe?
- In 2010, Universiti Malaya (UM) did sampling of the raw water and found significant presence of heavy metals in the water and also plant life. This report is found here:
2.3It is a scientific medical fact that the consumption of lead can cause mental disability and physical deformities in babies and children. It is also a scientific and medical fact that the consumption of any level of arsenic in water will cause long term skin problems and cancer. In the United States, the US Environmental Protection Agency has mandated a strict target of zero arsenic in water.
2.4In addition to the report, the UM researchers came to my office on 5th May 2014. The UM team last field trip there was in mid April 2014. UM noted only sand mining activities and did not see any water quality rehabilitation efforts in the area.
2.5UM also recommended no aquaculture activities (i.e fish rearing) should take place in the area. UM said that once samples are collected, the test to trace for heavy metals can be done is a mere 2 to 3 hours.
2.6According to the Star, the Selangor MB has declared that the water from the ponds to be safe.
Appendix 1: http://www.thestar.com.my/News/Nation/2014/04/25/Water-rationing-Selangor/
2.7LUAS has also said that periodic tests have been done. According to LUAS, the tests showed that the water quality to be above the Federal government health standards.
2.8Investigative journalists from The New Straits Times have claim that the water there is toxic. Selangor claims otherwise.
2.9A most interesting read are the questions posed to LUAS by the Association of Water and Energy Research Malaysia (AWER) in this article: Appendix 2: http://www.nst.com.my/latest/mining-pool-water-safe-to-drink-1.591410
The 9 questions raised by Awer in the article are as follows:
2.9.1When exactly, during the dry spell in March, did Luas release water from the mining pool into Sungai Selangor?
2.9.2Was a toxicity test on the water from the mining pools done for metal pollutants before it was released?
2.9.3Was the volume of water in the river enough to dilute metal pollutants in the water from the mining pools if there were any?
2.9.4Was a test on metal pollutants carried out when the water was channeled into treatment plants and before it was released to the public?
2.9.5What were the parameters of Luas’ tests?
2.9.6How was Luas’ sampling on May 2 done? What were the exact depths and locations of the water samples taken from the mining pool?
2.9.7How exactly would the water treatment plants filter metal pollutants?
2.9.8If Luas said water from the mining pools was only pumped out in March, explain the visuals (taken on Sunday and as shown in NST Online) that showed water from the pools flowing into the river.
2.9.9 Can Luas say for sure that its channeling of water from Sungai Selangor into the mining ponds it said were being used as storage, will not cause heavy metal sediments to be stirred up.
2.10Till date, I am not aware of any independent verification of the water data from both sides. My main concern is based primarily on the findings of the original UM report, which was done 2 years before this controversy began, hence is devoid of any untoward political agenda whatsoever.
2.11YB Charles Santiago has been the first politician to have raised this matter to the public. He has rightly asked for independent tests to be done to clarify the issue once and for all. I fully support this position.
3.0Can the water be treated at source; i.e in the ponds?
3.1Yes, UM said that there are several treatment options for rehabilitating mining ponds such as those found in Bestari Jaya. UM also said that it will take somewhere between six months to two years to successfully rehabilitate such a mining pond.
3.2UM noted that with ongoing sand mining activities, no proper rehabilitation of the ponds can take place until the sand mining operations are halted completely. Since there are about 100 ponds, this will require quite an intensive and sizable cleanup effort.
- Can the water treatment plant remove heavy metal?
4.1According to water engineers, the answer is no. Water treatment plants are not equipped to extract heavy metals from the raw water supply. As such, the only solution is to prevent heavy metals from entering the raw water source.
- Is the current treated water consumed contaminated by heavy metal?
- The short answer is we do not know unless we do further tests. However, some water engineers think this is unlikely. They explained that even if the water from the ponds is found to have traces of heavy metals, the traces will most likely be minimal by the time it reaches the treatment plant. This is due to the dilution of any such contaminated water with other safer sources of water. However this is merely an opinion without data and at any rate, we should never ever dump heavy metals into any river.
- At the water treatment plant, three tests are conducted for health and safety purposes. The first test is done on the point of intake, another during mid-treatment and the last one after treatment.
- Summary of Findings
- This is a serious public health issue. The UM report is free of politics; it is a credible academic paper and as such deserves serious consideration.
- The Selangor government has not engaged the rakyat fully on the matter and threats to sue people who question this issue are acts unbecoming of good governance.
- Till date, there is no evidence that the Selangor government has done proper planning for the project. Proper planning will entail total pond rehabilitation efforts first, making sure the water is potable and free of heavy metal before pumping such water into Sungai Selangor for public consumption.
7.0Questions that need answers
7.1I am not aware of any independent verification of water quality data. Where is the data and will Selangor release the same to an independent body like UM to verify?
7.2Before this water pumping project was approved, did Selangor carry out any environmental impact assessment and any health impact assessment reports? If yes, where are the reports? If no, why were none prepared?
7.3I am of the view that this project was somewhat rushed and as such, why has the Selangor state bought four pumps, leased 5 more and intend to quickly purchase another 10 pumps at the cost of RM200,000 each? Why is the MB rushing to spend immediately some RM10 million to build infrastructure for the project?
Appendix 3: http://www.thesundaily.my/news/1026177
Appendix 4: http://m.themalaymailonline.com/malaysia/article/selangor-to-buy-10-water-pumps-within-a-month
- An immediate stop to all water pumping activities. Pumping can only resume if and when the water is found to be safe after a full and complete investigation. A bipartisan investigative body with powers to call witnesses must be set up. I would recommend YB Charles Santiago to lead the same. The body shall also be given full and unfettered access to all Selangor State data and the adequate budget and powers to conduct their own tests.
- Full disclosure of all water quality data to be published immediately and new and independent tests to be conducted by UM. Immediate heavy metal tests at the Sungai Selangor Dam Water Treatment Plant should also be conducted.
- Stop all plans to purchase any more water pumps and freeze the RM10 million budget for the project infrastructure. Immediate and full disclosure of the water pump purchases and intended purchases, including but not limited to details of buyer and supplier, terms of payments and whether the same was done on an open tender basis. A thorough investigation and full disclosure is essential to restore Selangor’s financial credibility.
8.4The MB has also said that the matter is completely baseless and is the slanderous work of sore losers who did not get the rights to manage the former mining ponds. The MB must disclose details of the persons or companies who lost the contract to manage these mining ponds and investigate their motives. These persons should be given the right to defend themselves. A full disclosure of the winners of the same contract and the terms of that contract is also needed. If what the MB alleges is true, then Selangor must immediately take legal actions against the parties responsible.
APPENDIX 1: PARA 2.6 (THE STAR)
Published: Friday April 25, 2014 MYT 3:16:00 PM
MB Khalid: Pond water safe, Selangor rationing ends next week if situation continues to improve
KLANG: Pond water being pumped into Sungai Selangor is safe for consumption after being treated, and if the momentum continues, rationing will end next week, Selangor Mentri Besar Tan Sri Khalid Ibrahim said Friday.
“Water from some of these ponds is cleaner than river water as the ponds are very old, some of them have been there for 30 years,” Khalid told a press conference after a meeting-the-people session at Dewan Sri Hamzah here.
He added the pond water would be treated and tested again to ensure it was safe for consumption.
He added that the water situation was improving and if the momentum continued, consumers would no longer have to put up with water rationing from next week.
“We don’t have to continue with water rationing by next week if the current conditions continue,” he said.
Khalid also said the restructuring of the state’s water industry was going on as planned.
APPENDIX 2: PARA 2.9 (THE NEW STRAITS TIMES)
Mining pool water safe to drink?
By FARRAH NAZ KARIM AND ALIZA SHAH | firstname.lastname@example.org
KUALA LUMPUR: CONSUMERS want Luas, the sole authority responsible for the supply and safety of raw water in Selangor to answer several hard questions before it tells the public that there is nothing wrong with using water from mining pools in Bestari Jaya. Among them was the Association of Water and Energy Research Malaysia (Awer), which demanded that Luas (Se langor Water Management Authority) as well as the state government, to lay on the table, all evidence and back their assurance that water from the disused mining ponds was 100 per cent free of hazards. The following are among questions that Awer president S. Piarapakaran said the public would want Luas and the state government to answer.
1-When exactly, during the dry spell in March, did Luas release water from the mining pool into Sungai Selangor? 2-Was a toxicity test on the water from the mining pools done for metal pollutants before it was released? 3-Was the volume of water in the river enough to dilute metal pollutants in the water from the mining pools if there were any? 4-Was a test on metal pollutants carried out when the water was channelled into treatment plants and before it was released to the public? 5-What were the parameters of Luas’ tests? 6-How was Luas’ sampling on May 2 done? What were the exact depths and locations of the water samples taken from the mining pool? 7-How exactly would the water treatment plants filter metal pollutants? 8-If Luas said water from the mining pools was only pumped out in March, explain the visuals (taken on Sunday and as shown in NST Online) that showed water from the pools flowing into the river. 9-Can Luas say for sure that its channelling of water from Sungai Selangor into the mining ponds it said were being used as storage, will not cause heavy metal sediments to be stirred up.
Piarapakaran said Luas, in answering these questions, must furnish formal data to back them up so that the public, which had every right to know, would not be left won dering. The authorities, he said, must also make public all past results of the tests it had carried out on the water from the mining pools, especially those for traces of heavy metals. “Luas is the authority, regardless which party had carried out the tests, it has the strongest local standi. One set of results from their May 2 testing is not enough for them to say ‘it’s all good’. “It is akin to asking the police to check on a crime-prone area and conclude that the area is safe, just because on that one occasion, no crime was committed,” he said, adding that for more accurate readings for traces of metal, Luas needed to carry out more frequent and repeat tests on the water samples. Meanwhile, the Health Ministry yesterday revealed that the reports that Luas had been sending to the ministry on the quality of raw water was largely for microbacteria and “not so much on metals”. Its minister, Datuk Seri Dr S. Subramaniam, said the ministry would mobilise its officers immediately to the disused mining pools and conduct frequent tests for water safety. The minute any traces are detected, the state gov ernment, he said, would have to pull the plug on its use.He also said at present, the state was not compelled to inform the ministry on the water sources it was tapping. However, a new act that would be introduced soon would give the ministry power to look into issues concerning water sources, including mining pools (see accompanying story).Awer also called on the National Water Services Com mission (Span) to carry out an investigation into the issue to ascertain if there had been any contravention of laws.“This is a supply and security issue and Span is duty-bound to investigate and make public its findings,” he said, adding that the matter should also be put under the aegis of the Water Services Industry Act 2006. – Additional reporting by Hashini Kavishtri Kannan and Elvina Fernandez
APPENDIX 3: PARA 7.3 (THE SUN)
RM10 million allocated for infrastructure to alleviate shortage in Selangor
Posted on 23 April 2014 – 03:45pm
Last updated on 23 April 2014 – 08:43pm
Lee Choon Fai
SHAH ALAM: The Selangor government has approved RM10 million to build infrastructure to pump water from former tin mines into Sungai Selangor to supplement raw water supply. Mentri Besar Tan Sri Khalid Ibrahim said installation works began a few days ago and the state is targeting to supply 900 million litres a day (MLD) from nine mines. “The allocation includes purchasing high capacity pumps (up to 50 MLD) to ensure maximum effect to raise water levels at the Sungai Selangor dam,” he said.
The system will also be used to pump water into reservoirs to ensure adequate water supply for Selangor throughout the dry season, which is expected from the end of May until September.
Khalid said water rationing will only be lifted in stages when water levels at the Sungai Selangor dam goes over 40%.
“We want to make sure that there will be enough water supply in the next five to six months,” he said. Khalid said water levels at other dams are well over 50% but they only account for a fraction of the total supply in Selangor while the Sungai Selangor dam, which supplies over 60% of water in the state, is at 38.97%. The water pumping operations will be handled by the Selangor Water Management Board (Luas) and the Selangor Drainage and Irrigation Department (JPS).
Khalid said the Department of Environment had conducted tests on the water and had given the assurance that it is safe. Press conferences will be held every two days from tomorrow by state executive councillor for infrastructure, Dr Yunus Hairi, to keep the public updated about the water situation in Selangor. Khalid said he will be meeting representatives from the Federation of Malaysian Manufacturers (FMM) to assuage fears that they will not have enough water to sustain their businesses. Meanwhile, Khalid said the window for the state’s four water concessionaires to take up Selangor’s offer to take over water assets at RM9.65 billion will expire in the next few days.
The state government will proceed with their restructuring exercise after the offer expires and they are currently drawing up final draft documents to implement Section 114 of the Water Services and Industries Act (WSIA
APPENDIX 4: PARA 7.3 (THE MALAY MAIL)
Selangor to buy 10 water pumps within a month
BY MELISSA CHI
April 25, 2014
Selangor will purchase 10 high-capacity water pumps in a bid to raise the state’s water reserves at the Sungai Selangor dam, seen here in this file picture. — Picture by Zuraneeza Zulkifli
SHAH ALAM, April 25 — Selangor will purchase 10 additional high-capacity water pumps within a month in a bid to raise the state’s water reserves at the Sungai Selangor dam, state executive councillor Dr Ahmad Yunus Hairi said today.
Yunus, who is in charge of the state’s youth and sports, infrastructure and public utilities portfolio, said the new pumps will have the capacity to pump up to 86 million litres of water daily (MLD).
He said the state has been using four pumps since a month ago, and will be getting another five tomorrow, all leased from the Selangor Department of Irrigation and Drainage (JPS) and Kumpulan Semesta Sdn Bhd (KSSB). Each of these have the capacity to pump 50 MLD, he added.
“We are also looking into getting pumps with a greater capacity, it is still in the planning stage.
“God willing, we will get them because we are preparing to use other old tin mining pools as raw water sources to supply adequate water supply to the people in Selangor,” he told reporters at the Selangor State Secretariat building.
Yunus said the state has only been pumping water from the Kampung Hang Tuah mining pool and will utilise another eight pools identified later on.
The Sijangkang assemblyman said of the state’s seven dams, Sungai Selangor currently has the highest water level at 39.71 per cent or 91.33 million cubic metres. The amount is up by 1.18 percentage point from the week before.
Meanwhile, Principal Assistant Director at Selangor Waters Management Authority (LUAS) Md Khairi Selamat told reporters that the higher capacity pumps will cost at least RM200,000 above each, as that was the purchase price for the pumps loaned from JPS and KSSB.
APPENDIX 5: PARA 8.4 (THE NEW STRAITS TIMES)
11 May 2014| last updated at 12:28AM
MB: Sore losers behind harmful water claims
KUALA LUMPUR: Selangor Menteri Besar Tan Sri Abdul Khalid Ibrahim yesterday claimed that “certain quarters” are stirring up trouble by accusing the state government of obtaining harmful water from former mining pools.
Speaking to reporters at PKR’s service centre in Bandar Tun Razak here, he said the accusers were dissatisfied people who were unsuccessful in winning contracts to manage the former mining pools. “I know there are people who wanted the contracts to manage the mining pools. But the state government did not want to award contracts to third parties as we wanted to make sure the people of Selangor didn’t have to pay extra for water.” He said these people were employing “scare tactics” to spread fear among the people of Selangor by claiming that the water sourced from mining pools was too dangerous for consumption. Khalid also accused the Health Ministry of refusing to help the state government in managing the issue. “The Health Ministry is not helping us solve the matter. I must make it clear that although we have not yet sourced water from the mining pools, we have to prepare in case there is an extended drought. If there is a need to draw water from the pools, we will. Otherwise, we won’t.” On Thursday, the ministry had urged the Selangor government to stop sourcing water from disused mining pools. Minister Datuk Seri Dr S. Subramaniam was quoted as saying that he would pursue the matter with the Selangor Water Board and the state government. “Although tests on the quality of water from mining pools have shown it to be safe, the public is still not happy. There has been an overwhelming negative reaction in view of the perception that the water was polluted by a variety of toxins and dangerous substances.” Dr Subramaniam had also said the state government should note that water levels in dams in Selangor had gone up and it could provide clean water supply to the people.
On April 30, Khalid reiterated that water sourced from mining pools was safe for use based on samples taken by the Chemistry and Health Departments. He had said this in defence of the state government’s plan to source water from mining pools to overcome the water shortage which had affected the state over the past few months. When asked why there was still a water shortage in certain areas in Selangor despite the end of the drought, Khalid said this issue fell under the jurisdiction of Syarikat Bekalan Air Selangor (Syabas). “The Selangor government cannot be blamed for this. Syabas is the one responsible for regulating water pressure in the affected areas. “However, I must state that certain developers did not build enough water tanks, purportedly to save cost. “Without adequate number of water tanks, there may be a water shortage. I have instructed state planners and local authorities to inform me of developed areas that do not have enough water tanks. We will make sure that developers build more tanks there. “If Syabas does not know how to make sure water is supplied consistently to consumers, the state government can lend them some advice,” he said in jest. Khalid, who is Bandar Tun Razak member of parliament, earlier visited his service centre here, where elections for PKR’s Bandar Tun Razak, Cheras, Putrajaya and Bukit Bintang branches were being held. Khalid, who is running for the party’s deputy president’s post, said he was confident party members were wise enough to vote in the most qualified leaders to helm PKR.