Short of land, Malaysian residents face a choice between a landfill and an incinerator

Here is an article which raises interesting and not unique issues: a country with no energy recovery (EfW) and a five per cent recycling rate is considering a first waste incinerator, while a neighbour already has a significant programme of EfW and a recycling rate of 40 per cent.

As opposition to the construction of Malaysia’s first incinerator gains momentum, the man in charge of cleaning up Kuala Lumpur and four large states said city folk must choose between having a modern incinerator in their midst and living near smelly landfills like Klang Valley for the rest of their lives.

The Singaporean Straits Times reports that the Malaysian government plans to build a RM1.5 billion (S$705 million) thermal waste treatment incinerator in Broga, at the border of Selangor and Negeri Sembilan. However, residents there have raised a stink as they are concerned about emissions from a plant so close to their homes. Complaints flew despite official assertions that the project was safe as the latest technology would be used.

This week, residents near the plant’s site sent a note to Acting Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi. They also went to parliament on Thursday to register their protest with lawmakers. Malaysians generate 15,000 tonnes of waste a day, of which 5,500 tonnes are produced by those living in the Klang Valley area that encompasses Kuala Lumpur and Selangor. About half of the garbage is domestic waste.

While land-scarce Singapore – which throws out some 7,600 tonnes of garbage daily – has four incineration plants that can burn 8,200 tonnes of refuse every day. So far, Malaysia has been able to avoid building such plants because it has wide tracts of land.

But Mr Siraj pointed out that Alam Flora’s 18 landfill sites have a lifespan of a few months to three years. ‘Incineration is complementary to recycling and landfilling,’ he said. The country recycles only 5 per cent of its waste, with the remainder ending up at the dump sites. In contrast, Singapore’s recycling rate is about 40 per cent, with a 50 per cent target by 2010. Alam Flora is tipped to operate the plant in Broga, which is expected to burn 1,200 tonnes of waste a day. The location of this plant is already a compromise, after the government met protests when it unveiled plans to build the plant in a Puchong suburb in Selangor, with 260,000 people living within a 5km radius.

But a group representing some 80,000 residents in Broga and the nearby Semenyih areas is protesting against the shift to their neighbourhood. The controversy was stoked further when residents learnt that the contract for the plant had been awarded to Japan’s Ebara Corp and a local firm, although a study on its environmental impact – a must for major projects – had not been completed. Mr Halil Hussain, chairman of the No Incinerator Semenyih/Broga pro-tem committee, told The Straits Times: ‘We feel that the people have been cheated. We are not convinced the plant is going to be safe and we don’t know the type of technology to be used.’ The committee is also worried that the narrow roads of laid-back Broga will become a nightmare with dozens of rubbish trucks moving about, while the water catchment areas will be polluted.

Ano da Publicação: 2003
Fonte: WARMER BULLETIN ENEWS #12-2003: April 7, 2003
Autor: Kit Strange (Warmer Bulletin)
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