Some 17,000 residents in Kulai had their water supply cut off on Thursday (April 4) after a reservoir of ammonia-contaminated water burst on April 3, polluting Johor’s Sayong River, Bernama reported.
The reservoir was located at a bio-composite centre next to an oil palm mill in Sedenak, the report added.
Ammonia has been used in water treatment systems to help detoxify drinking water. But in high concentrations, the corrosive substance can be toxic to humans, according to reports from the Water Quality Association and World Health Organisation.
Bernama quoted Johor International Trade, Investment and Utility Committee chairman Jimmy Puah Wee Tse as saying that five water treatment plants in Malaysia were closed as they could not cope with the water’s ammonia content.
The plants are the Sayong 1, Sayong 2, Semanggar, Sg Johor and Tai Hong water treatment plants.
Singapore also stopped water treatment operations at its waterworks in Johor on April 4 due to high ammonia levels in the Johor River, The Straits Times reported.
The Sayong River flows into the Johor River.
Singapore’s Public Utilities Board (PUB) said the incident disrupted the water supply to the republic and some parts of Johor, but it had increased production at its other desalination plants and waterworks to compensate.
Puah added that the authorities had cancelled the refinery’s water abstraction licence and would fine the company.
Just last month, chemical dumping in Johor’s Kim Kim river caused almost 3,000 people in Pasir Gudang to suffer from gas poisoning.