Someone once told me, incinerators will kill you...
From a friend and a fellow 'concerned citizen':
In response to some idiotic letters published in the Star on the incinerator (see below), I urge you to write in to the Star/media to voice our concern. Send your letters to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Answers to questions why you should voice your concern against the incinerator in the media
Q: What is this I hear about the Broga incinerator being built in a water catchment area?
A: That is true. While we are facing problems of smelly tap water because of leachate from landfills that end up in water catchment areas, the authorities are now planning to build an incinerator in a water catchment area near the Sungai Semenyih that supplies water to more 1.5 mil people in the Klang Valley.
Q: Incinerators are used by developed countries which have higher environmental standards than Malaysia. Surely, it can't be that bad?
A: Incinerator is a dying technology. Developing countries often end up as dumping ground for obsolete technologies. Worse, in the case of Broga, it is going to be a guinea-pig site to test a largely unknown technology.
In the home country of Ebara Corporation, incinerators are gradually being phase-out as Japan follows stricter dioxin-emission standards since 2002. Many studies have shown that dioxin is a cancer causing agent. Check out the global anti-incineration movement.
Q: What do we do with all our garbage if we don't have the incinerator???
A: There are so many ways to solve our garbage problems. It is because we have a throw-away lifestyle that we can hardly envision a zero garbage economy. We cannot continue to produce garbage because our world is finite. Material has to be recycled back to nature. In the same way, we need to start thinking of garbage as resources that can be re-used and recycled. So, support recycling campaign, practise composting and lobby for a holistic and sustainable solid waste management system.
Q: Is landfill the best solution given that it pollutes the soil and contaminates our water source?
A: Most of our landfills are open dumps with no lining to prevent leachate. The government should only approve sanitary landfills and implement waste separation to prevent non-biodegradable waste from getting into the landfills.
Then there is the problem of good, sanitary landfill forced into 'early retirement' as it succumbs to public complaints despite the landfill being there first! All this is because land use plan was ignored in favour of development projects especially housing projects which encroached into the landfill buffer zone. For example, the 20-year lifespan of the Ayer Itam landfill in Puchong was halved at the time it was shut down in early 2005. Government must be held accountable to protect landfill zone against encroachment.
Q: Isn't thermal treatment different from incineration and touted as the cutting-edge waste management solution?
A: Pyrolysis, thermal gasification and Refused-derived fuel are essentially incineration as they all involve a combustion process. The name difference is just the manufacturers' creative and deceptive tactics. Far from cutting-edge, these technologies do not make waste disappear but convert them instead into hazardous gases, slag and ash. In the end, we are saddle with a new set of problems. Incineration is an expensive option and it still requires a landfill to store the toxic ashes.
Q: But the government vouched that incineration is good for the environment and poses no threat to human health?
A: That's exactly what the incinerator spin doctors/proponents would like you to believe. But no incineration technology can claim to be hazardous-free, as it cannot guarantee 100% efficiency. The combustion process releases pollutants such as dioxin, lead and other heavy metals into the environment.
In fact, the United Nations Environmental Programme (UNEP) has identified all forms of incineration as sources of dioxin and this toxic substance is one of the 12 pollutants that a global treaty – the Stockholm Convention is committed to reduce and eliminate its releases. The legally binding agreement came into force in May, 2004 and Malaysia is a signatory.
Q: Didn't the government say the incinerator come with built-in pollution-control mechanisms?
A: The truth is the built-in mechanisms are untested. And with the country's less than desirable track record of public infrastructures and equipments maintenance, the result could be catastrophic!
Q: But dioxin is already in the environment from industrial activities as well as from motor vehicle emissions?
A: That is true. However, with the incinerator project, it is 'burning' tax-payers money that does not solve their problems but only guarantee to bring them more problems in the form of dioxin and other chemical-poisoning. That is fool-hardy policy especially when we have yet to allow alternative waste reduction measures a chance to work. The recycling rate is only 5%. With better coordination and recycling infrastructure, we can cut down the waste stream and do without incinerator. In fact, incineration will negate all efforts to promote recycling and a sustainable lifestyle.
Opinion below taken from The Star Online.
Wednesday April 26, 2006
Time to get tough and build the incinerator
I SUPPORT Reader of Shah Alam, "Be firm on rubbish" (The Star, April
25) on ways to manage our waste.
Every now and then we hear of ammonia contaminating our rivers as a
result of leachate spillage or seepage. All this will result in a huge
disruption to our domestic supply of fresh water.
The way we are managing our waste is primitively third world in
nature, whether it is sanitary or unsanitary landfills.
We are living in a new millennium and yet when the Government wanted
the state-of-the art incinerator system, droves of so-called
"concerned citizens" demonstrated against it.
When our water was contaminated it was the same "concerned citizens"
who pointed fingers at the authorities for "allowing this to happen."
Come on Malaysians, wake up and stop being hypocrites. I remember one
of the first English phrases that my teacher taught me at school was:
"You can't have your cake and eat it, too."
It is about time the Government got tough. If an incinerator is
necessary, build it.
Referenced opinion taken from The Star Online.
Tuesday April 25, 2006
Be firm on rubbish
Of LATE, there has been so much hue and cry over the illegal dumping
of rubbish, leachate polluting our rivers, etc.
Rubbish will always be generated whether you like it or not.
Closing one dumpsite after another will not solve the problem in the long run.
The problem we are facing is not unique to our country. Look at Japan
or Singapore or Taiwan, how do they dispose of their rubbish?
If incinerators are the answer, then the Government should have the
political will to get this done for the sake of our future