Tuesday, 28 July 2009

learning so much about Singapore's Garbage System!!

When I first booked on to the Intertidal Walk over at Pulau Semakau a few weeks back, I really was looking forward to seeing and learning about the Marine Life there....

and I did ...... but I also learnt so much more!

All about Singapore's landfill ........ what we saw that day was an eye opener and it makes me wonder why other countries do not follow in Singapore's lead. Absolutely amazing and very, very impressive.

Now the following data was taken off their website and may not be interesting to many people, but if you can, at least skim over some of the interesting information on the landfill of Singapore.

Believe me..... you will find it just as interesting as I did.

Pulau Semakau is located to the south of the main island of Singapore, off the Straits of Singapore. The Semakau Landfill is located on the eastern side of the island, and was created by the amalgamation of the Pulau Sakeng (also known as Pulau Seking), and "anchored" to Pulau Semakau. The Semakau Landfill is Singapore's first offshore landfill and now the only remaining landfill in Singapore.

The Semakau Landfill is Singapore's first and only landfill situated offshore among the southern islands of Singapore. It covers a total area of 3.5 square kilometres and has a capacity of 63 million m³. To create the required landfill space, a 7 km perimeter rock bund was built to enclose a part of the sea off between Pulau Semakau and Pulau Sakeng.

It is currently estimated that the landfill, which began operations on 1 Apr 1999, will last till 2045. The Ministry of the Environment and Water Resources, along with the National Environment Agency which manages the landfill, hopes this deadline will be extended through various waste minimisation and resource conservation initiatives.

Semakau Landfill is filled mainly with ash produced by Singapore's four incineration plants, which incinerate the country's waste, shipped there in a covered barge (to prevent the ash from get blown into the air) every night. Contrary to popular belief that Semakau Landfill would be another dirty and smelly landfill, the care put into the design and operational work at the landfill have ensured that the site is clean, free of smell and scenic. During construction, silt screens were installed to ensure that the corals were not affected during the reclamation works. The landfill is lined with an impermeable membrane, and clay and any leachate produced is processed at a leachate treatment plant. Regular water testing is carried out to ensure the integrity of the impermeable liners.

Garbage dumps are generally not associated with thriving coral reefs, vast mangrove plantations and rare bird species.

Yet on Pulau Semakau off Singapore, this is exactly what you will find: just beside a secluded ecological zone that harbors dozens of rare plant, bird and fish species lies the world's first ecological offshore landfill.

Located 8 kilometers south of Singapore and covering an area of 3.5 square kilometers, the Semakau Landfill was designed by engineers and environmentalists at Singapore's National Environment Agency (NEA). It consists of two small islands that have been connected by a rock embankment. The area inside the landfill is divided into 11 bays, known as 'cells', which are lined with thick plastic and clay to prevent any harmful material from seeping into the sea.

Since the landfill was put into use in 1999, four of the 11 cells have been filled, covered with earth and planted with grass.

The landfill, which cost around $400 million, can hold up to 63 million cubic meters of rubbish, enough to satisfy Singapore's waste disposal needs until 2040.

What distinguishes Semakau from other landfills is that it is clean and free of smell. Two thirds of the material that comes to Semakau has passed through one of the city's four incinerators, reducing it to approximately ten percent of its original volume. Waste from construction material is also processed, while toxic waste like asbestos is packaged in such a way that it cannot leak into the surrounding environment.

Two mangrove groves that were destroyed when the embankment was built have been replanted near the landfill and today they serve as biological indicators for the local environment. If they were to start dying, it would be seen as a sign that harmful material had leaked from the landfill.

Scientists expected that some of the mangroves would not survive the relocation, but today they cover 1.4 square kilometers around the island and even have to be cut back in places -- a sign that the landfill is indeed leak-proof.

if you ever have the opportunity to visit the landfill - do so - it is well worth the time and effort to see how this all comes together for the benefit of all Singaporeans, now and for the future.

a big gold star to:
Singapore's National Environment Agency (NEA)

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