Locals are claiming that illegal plastic and tyre recycling factories operating around Kampung Teluk Gong, Port Klang are "protected" by an influential individual with the title of ‘datuk’.
Residents in the area were very reluctant to talk about the illegal factories when asked during a check by Bernama.
A 41-year-old taxi driver who only wished to be known as Zambri said there were about 50 licensed and unlicensed plastic and tyre recycling factories operating in the area over the years.
“They are protected by an influential individual. It is not just the residents who are very reluctant to get involved in the issue of illegal factories, the Klang Municipal Council (MPK) personnel also do not dare.
"Abang-abang kawasan (thugs) have prevented and harassed the local authority personnel from carrying out monitoring,” said the Port Klang native.
Zambri added that the factories that faced legal action from authorities also continued to operate despite being shut down.
"At the beginning of the year, there was a massive operation carried out by the authorities, but only a week later, the factories were back in operation as usual.
"We, the villagers here, are forced to risk our health, as these factories regularly burn plastic and rubber in the open, in the afternoon and early morning,” he said.
Checks by Bernama found that chemical residue from plastic and tyre recycling activities were discharged into drains until the water turned black and smelly, while drains were found to be connected to the water gate at the nearby fishing jetty.
Meanwhile, Port Klang assemblyperson Azmizam Zaman Huri expressed his disappointment over the MPK's lack of action in dealing with the illegal factories in the area.
Azmizam said many unlicensed factories that faced legal action from MPK were found to be operating as usual.
"For example, an illegal plastic recycling plant in Sungai Chandong, Pulau Indah is back in operation despite being subjected to legal action by MPK.
"It carries out open burning activities, which poses health risks to the surrounding population, also a factory in Teluk Gong, it is the same, despite action taken by MPK.
"In fact, my checks with Tenaga Nasional Bhd also found that MPK did not issue any letter for it to cut the electricity supply to those illegal plants.
"TNB is ready to work on this, but it needs to be informed in writing by MPK itself," he said, adding that it showed that MPK was not serious in its actions, as any enforcement needs to have some follow-up actions to ensure that these illegal factories cease operations.
"The local authority (MPK) needs to take serious action in this regard, as this issue has affected the image of the country and the government. It should not just target the small fish, but take action against the sharks too,” he said.
Meanwhile, MPK Licensing and Hawkers Department head Azhar Samsudin said as of April, there were nine unlicensed plastic recycling plants that had been ordered to stop operations immediately and to clean up used plastic piles that were in their possession.
“Also in the same period we identified 41 unlicensed plastic recycling factories operating in Klang.
"These factories are being monitored and we will take action as soon as possible,” he said.