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KUCHING, Sept 28: A special taskforce set up following an incident of gas bubbling at the abandoned oil wells in Canada Hill in Miri has proposed a proper well plugging of the wells and to gazette the site as a special area under the Public Park and Green Ordinance 1994.
Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Amar Awang Tengah Ali Hasan in a press statement said this was the recommendation of the taskforce, which had looked into the abandoned oil well issue in Canada Hill following a news report from a local daily on Sept 16 last year.
He explained that the gazettement of the abandoned oil wells at Canada Hill could enhance the ecosystem service and serve as a green lung and carbon sink for Miri.
He disclosed that the task force had conducted a site assessment on Sept 26, 2020.
“Despite the literature indicating that there were more than 600 oil wells, information furnished by Shell indicated that there were only 172 wells at Miri, in which only eight were still visible during the site assessment.
“The Mineral and Geoscience Department has categorised most parts of Canada Hill as high to very high susceptibility to landslide occurrence that renders the site not suitable for any commercial or residential development.
“Records also showed that a series of landslides had occurred at Canada Hill, with the last one occurring in 2019,” he said after a briefing on the issue.
Awang Tengah added that Associate Professor Dr Wee Siaw Kur from Curtin University, who led the site assessment team, has verified and concluded that the liquid detected near the site was harmless and non-acidic.
Nonetheless, he said the gas tested by Petronas found that the lower explosive level to be 15 per cent at the distance of two to four inches from the source of gases at the abandoned well.
Hence, the risk of explosion was very high due to to the nature of the site that comprises of flammable grasses.
With that, Awang Tengah said the existing shrubs surrounding the site should be eliminated to prevent untoward incidents such as an explosion.
Awang Tengah, who is also Second Minister of Urban Development and Natural Resources, said the taskforce was led by Miri Resident Office with its members including the Ministry of Urban Development and Natural Resources, Land and Survey Department, Natural Resources and Environment, Miri City Council, Fire and Rescue Department, Department of Environment, Department of Mineral and Geoscience, Curtin University, Sarawak Shell Berhad, Petronas Carigali Sdn Bhd, Petroleum Sarawak Berhad and Pantai Bayu Indah Sdn Bhd.
The briefing was attended by Assistant Minister of Urban Planning, Land Administration and Environment Datu Len Talif Salleh, State Legal Council Datuk Seri JC Fong and Urban Development and Natural Resources permanent secretary Datu Zaidi Mahdi. — DayakDaily