Main Organiser

Julius Centre University of Malaya

Co-organiser

Department of Social and Preventive Medicine, Faculty of Medicine, University of Malay

Supported by

University of Malaya

CONTAMINATION OF POTABLE WATER AT PENANG INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT - A DISASTER AVERTED

Author

Saraswathi Bina Rai 1 , Vasantha T 2

Institution

1 State Health Department Penang
2 Timur Laut District Health Office Penang

Abstract

Introduction: On 1st October, 2010, the Penang International airport began major renovation. Water here is distributed by a network of pipes for all usage. On 7th October 2010, coliforms were found in the water during routine sampling. Subsequent sampling showed further contamination at other areas in the water distribution system.

Objectives: An investigation was carried out to determine the scope and extent of the problem, identify the source of the contamination and to make sure that the water consumed at the airport is potable.

Methods: Environmental inspection and observations were done, workers interviewed and surveillance data reviewed. The water reticulation system was studied and water sampling was done at intervals from routine sampling points as well as at food outlets.

Results: The earthworks damaged the pipe lines. Surveillance data showed that the contamination was localised to within the airport only. Coliforms were detected at many of the water outlets along the various distribution lines. An action plan was designed and carried out. Conclusion: This water contamination occurred after the onset of construction. After the remedial actions, the contamination was cleared and the water supply was kept safe until the completion of the new pipes in July 2011.