Penang Port denies dredging caused death of 50,000 fish

Thousands of fish deaths by Penang port. Credit: The Star

Allegations have been made by the State Environment Committee of Penang that dredging activities carried out by the Penang Port Sdn Bhd (PPSB), in Teluk Bahang, Malaysia, have caused the deaths of approximately 50,000 fish.

An investigation, which was carried out on 23 August, by PPSB concluded there was no leakage of equipment. Sasedharan Vasudevan, CEO PPSB, has denied the allegations and commented, “All dredgers must be certified by the Marine Department (Malaysia) to ensure that they are in good working condition. As responsible citizens, we would not compromise (on) poor business ethics.”

Sasedhara maintains that the approved dredging dumping site for sediment is 15 nautical miles (27 km) from Teluk Bahang and so the dredging operations cannot be responsible for the fish deaths in the area.

The malpractice claims came about when a group of fishermen made a complaint to the police using a video allegedly showing a dredger leaving a trail of sediment behind on departing the North Channel near the North Butterworth Container Terminal.

PPSB maintain that they have an approved environmental assessment (EA), which was issued by the Department of the Environment (DoE) of Malaysia, on 9 October 2015, which is needed before any dredging works can be carried out.

“Part of the requirements set by the DoE includes the dredging and dumping monitoring system. It enables PPSB and the DoE to monitor the real-time movement of the dredgers using satellite.” Sasedharan said.

During maintenance dredging operations, water samples are taken from 10 different locations at three depth levels for analysis, a report is then created and sent to the DoE. The latest report will be completed after dredging works have ended on 31 August 2019.

The approved EA will expire on 31 August 2019.