Malaysians dump 60,000 tonnes of rubbish (an amount that can fill almost 25 Olympic-sized swimming pools) into the sewage treatment system every year.
Although the treatment process under Indah Water Konsortium (IWK) is designed for dealing with domestic waste, the mess that ends up in pipes and treatment plants includes discarded plastic items, diapers, sanitary pads, and condoms. More distressingly, IWK has also been finding dead foetuses in its treatment plants, some with umbilical cords attached. There have been an average of five such finds in a year.
“They are usually found in a decayed state and sometimes, without limbs”, IWK communications head Azzatullina Pawanchik said.
IWK workers had also come across dumped foetuses while investigating clogged pipes in several areas. Azzatullina said IWK would usually lodge police reports and help in the investigations. She added that 20,000 cases of clogged sewer pipes were reported last year, adding that IWK had to spend RM16mil to clear them and another RM8mil to remove the tonnes of rubbish from sewage treatment plants.
“To unclog sewer pipes, we have to deploy high pressure, jet-powered machines to clear some blockages. The exercise requires state of the art equipment, including CCTVs and skilled manpower”, said Azzatullina. Azzatullina said the entry of non-sewage items into underground sewerage pipes would block the flow, resulting in sewage overflowing via manholes on roads and also create “backflows” into the toilets of houses.
She hoped that the people would play their role by not throwing foreign objects indiscriminately into toilets.