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LETTER | Seek safer ways to dispose of firecrackers

LETTER | The huge explosion and resulting fire at the police evidence storage facility in Sentul could have been prevented if over the years the standard operating procedures (SOPs) concerning this disposal had been fine-tuned.

This is not the way RM4.17 million worth of firecrackers should be disposed of. It was extremely hot in the afternoon on April 26 when the disposal did not go according to plans.

For a start, the fireworks evidence storage facility was in the wrong place close to commercial and residential units. The immediate vicinity after the explosion resembled a part of war-torn Ukraine.

It also brought back memories of the Sungai Buloh Bright Sparkers factory explosion in the early 1990s which killed scores of workers, and severely damaged nearby factories and houses before ending up in a gigantic explosion that blew up the entire compound.

The noxious fumes are a health and environmental hazard and the police should explore other viable alternatives. As is well known, the government is very much against any form of open burning as it causes air pollution.

There is always a risk of fire and explosion even with the fire brigade around due to the inflammatory nature of the fireworks. The police should have thought of some other way to dispose of these incendiary firecrackers and fireworks.

I would suggest that these firecrackers be disposed of in the Bukit Tagar landfill facility In Hulu Selangor, a well-managed rubbish landfill. The evidential materials seized in Kuala Lumpur and Selangor by the police should be sent there.

The police should load the firecrackers into dumpsters and they should be transported to Bukit Tagar under police escort. The procedure in Bukit Tagar is that as soon as the fireworks materials are dumped, a thick layer of earth or sand should be bulldozed over the explosive materials rendering them harmless as the earth is damp. The rubbish should be piled on top to render the explosive materials harmless.

The Bukit Tagar landfill receives hundreds of lorry loads of garbage daily. This way of disposal of firecrackers is a proper and commonsensical method.

For a start, the materials should not be stored in urban places near residences and commercial properties. Some of the police stations in Selangor have very large compounds and a strong facility can be constructed in a safe and secure place until such time it is necessary to dispose of them.

The police station should ensure the security and safety of the storage facility. The police need to dispose of them when these evidential materials are in lesser quantities and not allow them to snowball to a huge amount which increases the danger. All that the police need are some photos or videos of the seized contraband and file them for future reference and evidence in court.

It is a very simple matter. Just imagine if the firecrackers were taken to court for proof and a similar explosion happens. All hell would break loose and everyone including lawyers and judges would flee for cover. Firecrackers can be lethal if not handled well.

The government and police need to be flexible and generous when claims are filed for damage to property and injury which was sustained by a few workers during the explosion.

The police have said that they will look into safer ways of disposing of such incendiary material after the April 26 incident.

The views expressed here are those of the author/contributor and do not necessarily represent the views of Malaysiakini.

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