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High concentration of heavy metals in river water at bauxite mining area

AUDIT REPORT High concentration of heavy metals was detected in the river water in the bauxite mining area in Kuantan, according to an audit analysis of water quality sampling conducted by the Department of Environment (DOE).

According to the Auditor-General’s Report 2015 Series 2, the sampling was carried out based on three parameters - heavy iron metal, mercury and aluminum - at nine locations in Sungai Riau, Mabok, Penang, Kuantan and Kuala Sungai Karang.

The result - the parameters in most of the river were found to have exceeded the National Water Quality Standard For Malaysia.

“The highest parameter for aluminum was 7.3mg/L in Sungai Kuantan in February 2016, while the highest parameter for iron was 10.32mg/L in Sungai Riau in August 2015,” said the report.

However, for mercury, the report showed no elevated level after August last year in all the locations.

The audit report stated that the chemical analysis on aluminum at Sungai Taweh and Sungai Rong also exceeded those standards, namely 1.5mg/L and 0.96mg/L respectively.

“The results of the chemical analysis exceeded the standard of Group IV (0.5mg/L) of the National Water Quality Standard for Malaysia. Subsequently, in March, the DOE conducted another inspection at Sungai Taweh and found the aluminum parameter also exceeded the standard,” the report said.

The report said the DOE’s schematic sketch map showed the bauxite laundering activities near Sungai Taweh and Sungai Rong with water from Sungai Taweh and Sungai Rong, will cause it to flow into the intake point of Bukit Sagu and Bukit Goh water treatment plants.

In this regard, the report said the Land and Mines Office and the Department of Mineral and Geosciences will control the deposition pool so that it would not overflow into Sungai Taweh by sucking the water and covering the pool with soil.

The report, however, mentioned that the action to shut down the pool had yet to be taken.

Meanwhile, the audit report said, the average Water Quality Index in five river basins are in the clean category and four more in the moderately polluted category.

Land-clearing activities such as farming, logging and mining have caused contamination of raw water sources and closure of water treatment plants, according to the report.

- Bernama

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