The Malaysian Trades Union Congress (Penang Division) has expressed alarm on the possibility of illegal e-waste contamination of Sungai Muda which provides drinking water to Penang and Kedah.
In a statement today, division secretary K Veeriah said the Penang Water Supply Corporation (PBAPP) needs to urgently ensure that Penangites are provided with safe and healthy water.
"We are also of the view that PBAPP ought to be transparent to the people of Penang, to tell us the truth of whether our water supply is, or has been, contaminated by the illegal dumpsites so far discovered in Kedah," Veeriah said.
Veeriah was responding to the discovery of a second illegal dumping site along the banks of the Sungai Muda, which was visited by the National Water Services Commission (Span), Department of Environment and Solid Waste Management and Public Cleansing Corporation officials on Tuesday.
This comes after the Kedah government seized an illegal dumpsite in Kampung Kemumbong, near Sungai Petani, in July.
After the Tuesday visit, Span chairperson Charles Santiago raised concerns of heavy metal leakages, saying the area should be declared a "strategic river" and sealed off to protect it from any contamination.
PBAPP CEO Jaseni Maidinsa has supported the move, saying that the corporation is seriously monitoring the quality of raw water drawn from the river.
Veeriah said the latest situation ought to be of great concern to the citizens of Penang.
"Given the fact that Sungai Muda serves as the main artery for the state's source of treatable water, it would be catastrophic for Penangites if heavy metal contamination is discovered as a consequence of the said dumpsite leakages," said the veteran unionist.
However, Veeriah also commended PBAPP for it's proactive approach in monitoring the situation in Kedah.
"But we are left wondering if the treated water we have been supplied with before this revelation had already been contaminated on account of not only the recent dumpsite but the first dumpsite on which there was no disclosure," Veeriah said.
"Our view is premised upon the fact that we, the water consumers of Penang, are not privy to the period that the said dumpsites have been in existence."
Veeriah said such abuse of our rivers and water catchment areas, would lead the public to question the state agencies' efficiency in ensuring the safety of our water supply.
"That too in spite of a recommendation that a 30m buffer zone be enforced as proposed by the National Water Supply Commission."