GEORGE TOWN, Feb 5 — The state government will not hesitate to demand compensation from those responsible for contaminating the waters at Batu Ferringhi.
State environment committee chairman Phee Boon Poh said the Drainage and Irrigation Department (DID) had been instructed to quickly clean up the popular tourist spot.
Traces of the deadly bacteria E. coli were found in the initial sampling process conducted by the authorities. However, there was still no directive to close the beach.
“In a meeting with the higher-ups from the Department of Environment (DOE), we have established Indah Water Konsortium had a part to play in this matter. The discharge may have caused the emergence of the dark effluence, which gave the seawater a blackish appearance,” said Phee.
“We have instructed DID to conduct the cleaning process immediately.”
When asked if the local authorities would cordon off the beach, Phee said: “We will reveal more details soon.”
The state government is expected to reveal their next course of action in addressing the woe during a press conference scheduled for today.
The dark substance was believed to have originated from a sewage pipe in Sungai Batu Ferringhi, located almost a kilometre away from the river mouth, where the black patch is evident.
Checks by The Malay Mail yesterday revealed the pipe was spewing murky water into the river, which eventually flowed to the sea.
Upon closer inspection, it was found that the water gushing out from the pipe had a foul odour.
Moments later, a handful of DID officers inspected the pipe and its surrounding areas and took photographs.
When approached, the officers said they believed the pipe was from Indah Water Konsortium’s Northern Beach Treatment facility, located some 800m away from the pipe.
“However, we will investigate the matter first and report it to our superiors before anything can be said for sure,” said an officer who declined to be named.
The DID officers were joined by DOE personnel who collected samples from the river.
“We have taken samples from five different points along the river and we will send them to the lab for testing,” said the team leader, who also declined to be identified.
Meanwhile, the DOE will not cordon off the area to the public despite traces of E. coli.
Department deputy director-general (operations) Dr Zulkifli Abdul Rahman said they did not have the prerogative to close the beach as it was under the state government’s jurisdiction.
“Our investigations on the water samples will continue,” said Dr Zulkifli after a meeting with the state health department and IWK at the state DOE office in Bayan Baru.