A granite quarry is located directly above a hillslope which gave way and buried 11 workers at a construction site in Tanjung Bungah, here, yesterday.
The Natural Resources and Environment Ministry has revealed that the “Teik Granite Quarry” is located right above the collapsed portion.
It is a permanent quarry which started operations in 1960.
The ministry also revealed that the quarry conducted blasting twice a month, with the last one carried out on Oct 9.
The ministry said it never supported the condominium project as there were no sufficient buffer zones between the project site and the quarry.
It had issued a rejection letter on January 23, 2015.
“Once the rocks are blasted loose from the hillside, they are sent to a “crushing” site within the quarry where the rocks are then crushed to smaller pieces for construction use.
“The quarrying activities are only 162 metres away from the crushing site and between 400 to 500 metres from the blasting site of the quarry.
“It is therefore not a safe and peaceful environment for people to live in.
“Furthermore, the development involves steep slopes, and this requires a detailed engineering study which in turn may require Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) approval.
“Unfortunately, they (the developers) decided to ignore our advice and went ahead with the construction with blatant disregard for the lives of their workers,” the ministry said in a statement today.
The ministry said it was “very disappointed” with the Penang government’s lack of monitoring of the project.
It said it was also “perplexed” as there was no “interference” from the state government, which it said only raised more questions than answers.
“The ministry would like to strongly urge the Penang government to re-examine their plans to develop any hillside project.
“We trust the government will do the right thing and prevent such incidents from happening again and work for the good of the people.”