Malaysia discovers biggest abandoned shipment of illegal toxic waste from Romania

KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia has uncovered its largest case of abandoned toxic waste, after 110 containers of hazardous heavy metals from Romania and bound for Indonesia illegally entered the country last month, state media Bernama reported on Sunday (Jul 19).

Malaysia in recent years became the world’s main destination for plastic waste, after China banned imports of scrap. It has been negotiating with origin countries to take back hundreds of containers of plastic that entered the country illegally.

READ: Malaysia says won’t be ‘garbage dump’ as it returns waste

Environment and Water Minister Tuan Ibrahim Tuan Man said 1,864 tonnes of electric arc furnace dust (EAFD) – a by-product of steel production that contains heavy metals like zinc, cadmium and lead – were found abandoned at the Tanjung Pelepas port in the southern state of Johor, according to Bernama.

“The discovery of the EAFD, on transit in Malaysia and bound for Indonesia, is the biggest finding of its kind in Malaysian history,” Tuan Ibrahim was quoted as saying.

He said the EAFD, classified as a toxic waste under the Basel Convention, had been listed as concentrated zinc in declaration forms.

“The Department of Environment, as the Basel Convention authority (for Malaysia), has not granted approval for or received notifications from the waste exporter to transit in Malaysia,” he said.

Malaysia has contacted the Romanian Basel Convention authority to arrange for the repatriation of the containers and have engaged Interpol for further investigations, Bernama said.