Best of our wild blogs: 19 Feb 18



Now available: "The Singaporean Seas and Shores" by Wild Drawings
Celebrating Singapore Shores

Rain, rain go away…..Dec 31 – Jan 1 2018
Winging It


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For new breed of local farmers, the sky’s the limit

WONG PEI TING Today Online 18 Feb 18;

SINGAPORE — In less than two years, green shoots sprouting from swathes of flat land may no longer be the image that best represents local vegetable farming.

If the proposals picked by the Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority (AVA) in a recent tender are any indication, the future of farming will consist of mid-rise “apartment blocks” for vegetables, as well as towering rows of leafy greens in next-generation greenhouses.

The winning companies said they are raring to place Singapore on the map for urban farming.

Backed by public-listed company Edition, a four-year-old firm called Meod snapped up the biggest number of plots – three – last week in the AVA’s first tender that featured a fixed price upfront, for companies to compete solely on concept.

The seven other successful tenderers each secured one plot in Lim Chu Kang.

With each plot spanning about two hectares, Meod’s three plots, which cost S$836,000, will significantly boost its existing operations, which started in January last year.

It currently farms on a one-hectare plot at the D’Kranji Farm Resort with an aim to produce about 500 to 550kg a day.

Fruiting vegetables like tomatoes and melons are planted there using trellis lines that allow farmers to string up crops and grow them to a maximum height of 4.5m. The method was inspired by practices in Israel and gleaned from Dutch consultants the firm engaged, said Meod director Jeremy Chua, 38.

In the new plots, Meod plans to grow only leafy greens using its proprietary hydroponics system, which features modular plant beds that can be stacked to heights of three to four metres.

Meod will also be making use of the data they have collected in its current farm – where they planted a mix of lettuce, Asian greens, herbs and Swiss chards – in a big way. Besides the temperature, humidity and light within the greenhouses, the company tracked the growth of seedlings and crops using various methods, as well as the time needed for each plant to reach a certain weight and stage of growth.

Such a science-based approach provided “a solid base to work with our consultants for the six hectares, to design and build the greenhouse and growing structures that can cater specifically to our local and regional tropical climate”, said Mr Chua.

He expects the newly secured plots to be operational in 12 to 18 months’ time.

Asked about its relative lack of large-scale farming experience, Mr Chua said: “We do have a team of consultants, both local and abroad to help with the size and scale. Two of our partners had also been heavily involved in the urban farming movement in Singapore since 2011 and 2012.”

Mr Chua said Meod hopes to write the chapter in Singapore’s farming story and “scale (the technology) beyond Singapore, specifically into South-east Asia”.

“We have to look at how to implement large and tangible improvements in harvest and yield with the help of technology, while still keeping costs realistic in the regional context,” he said.

NO SUN, NO PROBLEM

At least two of the successful tenderers are taking their farming indoors, growing crops on tiered racks with light emitting diodes (LEDs) replacing sunlight.

Sunpower Grand Holdings was set up by Taiwanese academic Wu Yu-Chien.

Dr Wu holds a patent in LED technology that allows brightness to be adjusted with a computer, without the use of bulky magnetic components like transformers and inductors.

Partnering Ms Jean Ee, a Johor-based former banker, Dr Wu will be rolling out his invention for growing hydroponics fruits and vegetables in a real farm setting for the first time.

The technology will enable vegetables like kailan and xiao bai cai, which typically require 45 days to grow, to be harvested in 15 days, said Ms Ee, 45.

The yield from their three planned buildings is expected to be 900 tonnes a year. One building will hold up to 15 tiers of plants.

“If you leave it to nature, sometimes the weather varies,” said Ms Ee, whose mother is a traditional caixin and herb farmer in Johor.

She and Dr Wu also intend to build an education centre on their premises.

Another company, Farm deLight, will use its two-hectare plot to expand its 600sqm operation in Boon Lay.

It currently farms herbs and microgreens using red and blue LED lights, while smart controls regulate air-conditioning and the amount of carbon dioxide.

It intends to farm “common leafy greens” like xiao bai cai and kale going forward.

Meanwhile, Cameron Highlands farm operator Vegeasia has joined hands with beansprout farmer Tan Teck Tiang, 51, to set up an outdoor hydroponics system that uses PVC panels, as well as pumps and pipes to supply the crops with nutrients and water.

Vegeasia currently uses the technology in Malaysia, where it has more than 100 hectares of farmland that yields 40 to 50 tonnes of vegetables such as lettuce, caixin, kailan, and tomatoes a day.

Mr Tan said the S$1 million partnership aims to bring Vegeasia’s “tried, tested and proven” technology to the Republic.

“We (will) save a lot on trial and error,” said Mr Tan, who has about 15 years’ experience at his uncle’s company, Chiam Joo Seng Towgay Growers. The latter supplies about four tonnes of beansprouts a day to supermarkets here.

The AVA has high hopes for the eight companies. “We look forward to the contributions of these companies in transforming the local farming sector into one that is productive, innovative and sustainable,” Mr Melvin Chow, its group director of food supply resilience, said last week.

Its tender launched last August attracted 28 parties.

Among the unsuccessful tenderers was veteran farmer Wong Kok Fah, 56, who wanted to secure more land for high-tech farming “for my next generation” – his nephew Dave Huang, 33.

Mr Wong’s Kok Fah Technology Farm currently operates seven plots spanning nine hectares in Sungei Tengah.

The plots’ leases are renewed on a three-year basis and he produces about 100 tonnes of leafy vegetables like bayam (a variety of spinach), kailan and xiao bai cai monthly through a mix of soil cultivation and hydroponics.

Mr Huang, who joined the business straight out of university, said the unsuccessful attempt is not the end of the road.

It will give him “more time to perfect the system” before the next tender, he declared.


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Malaysia: Tourists appalled by slaughter of shark and manta rays

muguntan vanar The Star 19 Feb 18;

KOTA KINABALU: It was a heart-­wrenching Chinese New Year celebration for Sabah’s shark conservationist Adderick Chong as pictures of the slaughter of oceanic manta ray emerged after a lull from the diving havens of Pulau Mabul.

A total of two oceanic manta rays, 13 devil rays and one shark were slaughtered by people along the village at Pulau Mabul this weekend as shocked Chinese and western tourists took pictures and questioned their guides on why the killings were taking place.

He said the tourist guides said the tourists were appalled by the sight of the killings.

One of the tourists had told them that they came to Sipadan to dive and see the mantas and sharks under the sea. But, they only saw them on land being butchered, said Chong, who is Sabah Sharks Pro­tection Association president.

He said the manta ray was supposed to be gazetted as protected species under the federal Fisheries Act for Sabah last year but they still do not know what the status of the protection was.

Apart from the oceanic and reef manta rays, the federal Agriculture and Agro-based Industry Ministry had agreed to ban the hunting and finning of hammerhead shark, smooth hammerhead shark, winghead shark, and oceanic wingtip shark on the recommendation of the Sabah Fisheries Department.

Chong, however, said there has been no official word on whether the ban had been gazetted and had passed through the various legal requirements of the law.

“We want to know what has happened to the ban. This latest killing is really sad, we need the law to be enforced if the ban was in place,” he said.

Sabah has also proposed to ban shark fishing and finning at all six of its marine parks by the end of 2017 through an amendment to the Sabah Parks Enactment.

Last year, State Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister Datuk Seri Masidi Manjun said that the ban within marine parks, which covers about 8% of Sabah waters, would help in taking action against those caught shark hunting within the states marine parks.

State authorities had been pushing for amendments to be made to national fisheries law that will ban shark hunting altogether amid reports of a dwindling shark population.

Masidi, who supports the ban on shark hunting, said that there must be efforts to protect sharks in Sabah waters as it brought in more tourism dollars being alive and in the wild than being sold as seafood.


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Malaysia: Villagers learn to keep Borneo pygmy elephants away using PVC 'cannons'

POLIANA RONNIE SIDOM New Straits Times 18 Feb 18;

TELUPID: Some young villagers here have been consulting with Sabah Wildlife Department’s Wildlife Rescue Unit (WRU) and resorting to google online to find ways to keep the Borneo pygmy elephants away effectively.

As human-elephant conflict grows in this area where the huge mammal has been trespassing into village settlements, they took the initiative to make ‘cannons’ from polyvinyl chloride (PVC) pipe, locally known as 'ladum', which is believed to scare the herd and prevent them from destroying crops and properties.

The step was taken following a shortage of staff in the department as well as WRU staff to fully manage the situation at six locations which have this problem.

Syaiful Anthony Stephen, 32, from Kampung Gambaron, said the villagers involved normally moved in groups of three to eight every night on patrol duty since a herd of elephants trespassed their village early this year.

The home-made ‘sound bomb’ made from PVC pipe, plastic bottle and gas lighter, uses spirit as explosive and a safety cone instead of a loud speaker to chase the wildlife back into the forest.

“Besides learning from WRU, we used the search engine ‘Google’ to see how ‘ladum’ is made by Indonesian community to scare elephants away.

“Previously, the herd would stay a week or two but now they stay longer - even over a month.

“So the number of elephants entering our village has grown and the situation if out of control. They not only damage crops but also property like cars,” he said when met here.

Besides his village, the other five areas facing the increasing human-elephant conflict were Kg Liningkung, Kg Bauto, Kg Telupid, Telupid town and Sekolah Menengah Kebangsaan (SMK) Telupid.

Previously the department director Augustine Tuuga said 20 elephants from two herds, believed to be from Deramakot and Segaliud forest reserves, were spotted at the village and were suspected to be the same herd of elephants which trespassed the place last year.

At the same time, Syaiful was hopeful that the district here could be promoted as a tourist attraction following more elephants being spotted.

“Since the elephants return every three or four months even after they are chased back into the forest, we hoped Telupid could gain prominence like Sukau amongst international tourists," he said.

"The presence of the elephants here can provide various opportunities, including economically.”


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Indonesia: West Kalimantan facing situation of emergency against haze of smoke

Antara 18 Feb 18;

Pontianak, W Kalimantan (ANTARA News) - The district administration of Mempawah of West Kalimantan has announced a situation of emergency against haze of smokes with a number of peat land areas having caught fire as dry season began to hit the region.

"The status of emergency will last until June 30, 2018," acting district head of Mempawah, Gusti Ramlana, said here on Sunday.

Gusti Ramlana said dots of bush fires had been monitored in a number of areas, adding the dry season began only early this month bur the impact is quite damaging.

"I hope the BPPD (local disaster mitigation agency) could give a map of areas vulnerable to forest and bush fires in Mempawah," he said.

Earlier, head of the Climatology station of the Memawah Meteorology and Geophysics agency (BMKG) Wandayantolis said rain is expected in a week in a number of upstream areas, but fires are feared to break out in number of other areas in West Kalimantan.

Meanwhile in Riau, the BPBD of the city of Dumai began to be busy in putting out fires ravaging 20 hectares of forests and farmlands in the area of Tanjung Penyembal.

The BPBD secretary Muhammad Ridho said the oil palm plantation had been on fire for several days as a result of extremely hot dry days and other causes not yet identified.

"A company takes part in seeking to put out the fires that sent thick smokes polluting the air," Ridho said on Thursday.

He said in January, BPBD succeeded in putting out fire in the sub-district of Sungai Sembilan Dumai, but fire began to break out again in the peat land.

Fire fighters are working hard to prevent the fire from spreading with equipment from a local company.

Forest and bush fires in Riau and West Kalimantan have been regular threat almost every year in this region sending thick smoke as far as Malaysia and Singapore.

The threat of drought triggered disaster came when a number of people have been reported killed in rain triggered landslides and floods in other parts of the country.

(U.SYS/A/H-ASG/F001)
Editor: Heru Purwanto


Police ordered to arrest culprits of forest fires
Antara 18 Feb 18;

Pontianak, W Kalimantan (ANTARA News) - West Kalimantan`s police chief Brig. Gen. Didi Haryano, has instructed his staffs to arrest the arsonists forest and land fires in every region.

"We have tried to extinguish the land and forest fires at Wonodadi Street 2 and Patria Jaya Hamlet along with Regional military command XII and local people in Rasau Jaya last night. There were two settlements that were almost burned by the fires there," he said here on Sunday.

He said regional police and Indonesian Defense Forces (TNI) with local people made efforts to extinguish the fires. Luckily, the fires did not burn the residents` houses.

Didi revealed there would be many losses related to the fires, such as health problems, sea and air transportation`s disturbance because of the smoke.

He had experiences on land and forest fires impact to respiratory infections victims and transportation activity disturbances. He hoped this incident would not happen anymore in West Kalimantan.

Didi expected to cooperate with people in order to prevent land fires.

Forest and land fires started happening in West Kalimantan since this week. According to data of province`s Disaster Mitigation Agency (BPBD), there was around 182 of 2,000 villages have been monitored in the land and forest fire movement.

"We expect the assistance from police to prevent and punish the culprits behind the land and forest fires," Head of West Kalimantan`s BPBD, TTA Nyarong said.

Nyarong said there was high indication of hot spots in West Kalimantan in 2015. Then, it decreased drastically in 2016 and 2017. He urged the people to prevent the fires before they escalated too far.

Reported by Rendra Oxtora
(T.KR-TQA/a014)
(U.SYS/A/KR-BSR/A014)
Editor: Heru Purwanto


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Balding Philippines coral reefs prompt SOS call

Catherine Teves, Philippine News Agency Canadian Inquirer 17 Feb 18;

MANILA — Scientists are sounding the alarm on the plight of coral reefs nationwide.

They are raising the urgency for sustainably managing Philippine areas with coral reefs to help prevent these beneficial ecosystems’ further degradation and loss.

Latest data show the country is losing its coral cover, warned Dr. Wilfredo Licuanan, professor and director at De La Salle University’s marine station, Br. Alfred Shields FSC Ocean Research Center.

“Forty years ago, about 5 percent of our reefs were still in excellent condition, since more than three-fourths of the surface there was covered with live corals. We no longer saw this during our assessment over the last three years,” Licuanan said in a media briefing on board the environment watchdog Greenpeace’s ship Rainbow Warrior on Friday.

The problem is plaguing even Boracay Island, the scientist noted, as the country’s top tourist attraction has no more coral reef in excellent condition.

Such loss of cover highlights the need for sustainably managing coral reefs, so present and future generations could benefit from these natural resources, he said.

Licuanan said management strategies for achieving such goal could include closing off areas to help reefs recover from degradation.
“Closing off means managing people’s activities in the areas,” he said.

Coral reefs are underwater structures that naturally form over the years. These are made of accumulated skeletons of corals, which are marine animals that permanently attach to the ocean floor, according to experts.

They said coral reefs are among Earth’s most valuable ecosystems, as these support more species per unit area than any other marine environment.

The 2014 Asian Development Bank publication “State of the Coral Triangle” said Philippine coral reefs host about 3,053 fish species.

Based on the estimated 26,000-square km. coral reef area nationwide, the publication said annual potential yield from coral reef fish species is between 351,000 tons and 429,000 tons of fish.

“Reefs are important for food security,” UP Marine Science Institute professor, Dr. Perry Aliño, said at the press conference.

Aliño said reefs also act as a buffer to protect shorelines against waves, surges, and rise in sea level.
Coral reefs likewise serve as tourist attractions, he noted.

Sedimentation, marine pollution, destructive fishing, and negative impacts of coastal development are among the factors that contributed to Philippine reef damage, the ADB publication said.

Environment authorities said climate change-induced sea temperature rise beyond what corals could tolerate would stress out and possibly kill these animals.

“Corals are the first to feel such warming,” Philippine Coral Bleaching Watch coordinator Miledel Quibilan said at the press conference.

She said sea temperatures beyond 32°C would cause corals to bleach or turn white. Bleaching happens as such warming forces corals to expel the algae that live within them. The corals feed on these algae.

Coral bleaching is a problem particularly for the Philippines, where there is high dependence on coastal and marine resources for food and livelihood, noted Quibilan.

Earlier, Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) 6 (Western Visayas) cited coral bleaching as among the causes of coral cover decline in Boracay Island.

“Mean percent cover of live hard corals is 30 percent and soft corals is at 11.5 percent, which is considered fair,” DENR 6 said, citing results of its team’s underwater assessment in Boracay’s Coral Garden, Angol Point, Friday’s Rock, Laurel Island, Channel Drift, Bulabog Reef (Laguna de Boracay), and Yapak.

Regulating diving activities is among the team’s recommendations for saving coral reefs in Boracay, the DENR office said.

Meanwhile, the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) said the first mass coral bleaching event in the Philippines was reported in 1998-1999, beginning in Batangas and spreading nearly clockwise around the country.

The bleaching correlated with anomalous sea surface temperature, noted BFAR.

Decrease of live coral cover due to bleaching ranged from 0.7 percent to 80 percent, BFAR said.

Greenpeace Southeast Asia Executive Director Yeb Saño said government and industry must rapidly increase protection of marine ecosystems to help safeguard and strengthen natural climate mitigation and these resources’ ability to adapt.

Climate change, Saño stressed, is compounding challenges these marine creatures are already facing from pollution and other threats.

Saño said both government and industry must speed up the transition to 100-percent renewable energy by drastically cutting climate change-driving carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gas emissions from coal-fired power plants and other sources.

“The situation isn’t getting better. If we continue emitting carbon like we do now, we only have three years left before breaching the 1.5°C threshold,” he said at the press conference.

The Paris Agreement on climate change aims to reduce greenhouse gas emissions worldwide to keep global temperature below such threshold.

In 2013, the US Navy ship USS Guardian ran aground in part of Tubbataha Reefs, a national marine park and one of the Philippines’ UNESCO World Heritage Sites.

Licuanan said the damaged reef portion was already showing signs of recovery just five years after that incident happened.

“That portion recuperated by itself because the area was well-managed,” he said.

Removing the USS Guardian from the area helped reduce the stress on the damaged reef portion there, the professor added.

Pambansang Katipunan ng mga Samahan sa Kanayunan chairperson Ruperto Alerosa also said his group’s coordination with Calatagan municipality in Batangas province had helped improve the condition of reefs in this area.

“We encouraged our LGU to focus on protecting reefs,” he said at the press conference.

Small fisherfolk are among the country’s poorest, so further damage and loss of reefs will mean increasing poverty for this sector, Alerosa noted.

Greenpeace continues calling for climate justice, noting those least responsible for climate change are suffering the most from this scourge’s brunt.

Top greenhouse gas emission producers must account for their respective contributions to climate change, Greenpeace pointed out.

This week, Rainbow Warrior docked in Metro Manila to help promote Greenpeace’s campaign for climate justice.

According to Greenpeace, Rainbow Warrior will eventually sail to Guimaras province and Tacloban City for the same purpose.

“The ship will serve as a global platform for climate justice,” Greenpeace Philippines country director Amalie Obusan said at the press conference.
Climate change’s threats to coral reefs and other ecosystems highlight the urgency for climate justice, she noted.

The scientists had earlier cited the onslaught of extreme weather events and sea level and temperature rise as climate change’s impacts on the Philippines.


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Best of our wild blogs: 18 Feb 18



Why have an EIA Law? The Case for Public Participation
ELSA@NUS Law

Butterfly of the Month - February 2018
Butterflies of Singapore


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Malaysia: Cold weather on East Coast may recur

Bernama New Straits Times 17 Feb 18;

KUALA LUMPUR: The cold weather experienced in several areas in peninsular Malaysia is a temporary phenomenon but it can recur if the north-east monsoon cold winds from Siberia and China blow towards peninsular Malaysia.

Malaysian Meteorological Department (MET Malaysia) director-general Alui Bahari said cold weather and thick fogs in the East Coast states, interior of Kedah and north Perak had returned to normal since Feb 12 with daily minimum temperature readings of 20 degree Celsius and upwards at the meteorological stations.

He said the cold weather might be repeated in February next year if there was cold north-east monsoon wind movements from China and the sky was cloudless at night.

“Climatologically, February is a period of lowest daily minimum temperature compared to other months in the states on the East Coast, the interior of Kedah and north Perak,” he told Bernama here today.

He said this when commenting on media reports recently that Kuala Krai on Feb 11 had experienced an extraordinary weather by recording its lowest temperature of 18.4 degree Celsius.

Alui said the cold weather from Feb 9 to 11 in Kelantan was felt in Terengganu and Pahang as well as in the interior of Kedah and northern Perak.

Meanwhile, Alui said MET Malaysia from time to time issued warnings in the event of thick fog due to cold weather and turbulent seas rendering it unsafe for sea and air transport movement activities. “The information will be channelled to the public and related parties including the Department of Civil Aviation, the Fisheries Department of Malaysia, the Marine Department of Malaysia and the Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency,” he said.

Asked on the possible recurrence of the Cyclone Tembin that hit the Philippines in December last year and its impact on Sabah, Alui said at present there was a tropical cyclone, namely, Sanba Tropical Storm in the southeast of the Philippines.

Accordingly, MET Malaysia would issue weather warnings from time to time for the state of Sabah if heavy rains and strong winds were expected to occur in the state, he said. -- BERNAMA


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Thailand: Dugong population at 20-year high

APINYA WIPATAYOTIN Bangkok Post 17 Feb 18;

The dugong population in the South has risen at the highest rate in more than two decades, says Kongkiat Kittiwatthanawong, director of the Phuket Marine Biological Centre.

Citing preliminary results of data collected in an aerial survey conducted from Monday until yesterday, Mr Kongkiat said 210 dugongs were found and the largest herd of the mammals observed consisted of 30 members including 10 mothers and their offspring.

At least 42 couples of mother and offspring dugongs were found and counted in the survey, he said.

The survey was conducted in Trang province, the largest habitat for dugongs in the country, using a small plane flown by foreign pilots, he said, adding that the locations included in the survey were Hat Chao Mai National Park and Mu Ko Libong Non-Hunting Area.

The number of dugongs found in the Trang survey will later be analysed and used to calculate the average population of the mammals, he said.

Also found in the survey were 19 dolphins and 57 sea turtles, he said.

In last year's survey, only 169 dugongs were found, he said, adding that the latest survey reflected a rise in density of the dugong population.

A key factor contributing to the population growth in the South is believed to be successful attempts to initiate cooperation in the fishery communities in avoiding using fishing equipment that may hurt dugongs and other rare marine species.

The number of dugongs found dead on beaches last year was six, he said.

Based on this year's figures, he said the number of dugongs found next year should probably rise to between 240 and 250.

Sitakan Thawisuwan, who specialises in rare marine species, said final figures from this year's survey will be released soon.

Dugongs, commonly known as sea cows, are often found in shallow coastal waters in the Indian and western Pacific Oceans.


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Best of our wild blogs: 17 Feb 18


Why (the heck) did I study giant clams?
Mei Lin NEO


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The long road to ensuring that Singapore's waste doesn't go to waste

Expensive tunnels and facilities are being built to tackle mounting waste and help carve out a greener future. But current habits on the ground could end up costing the nation dear.
Derrick A Paulo and Daniel Heng Channel NewsAsia 17 Feb 16;

SINGAPORE: Deep below the surface, deeper than any MRT line, work has begun on a mega project that – within a decade from now – will carry whatever you flush down the toilet if you are in the western half of the island.

The 100km of tunnels and link sewers being built will then take all their contents to Tuas – where every effort will be made to give sewage a new lease of life, including turning it into energy.

This S$6.5-billion second phase of the Deep Tunnel Sewerage System (DTSS) is part of Singapore’s new, holistic approach to ensuring that waste does not go to waste. (It comes after a similar sewerage superhighway to serve the eastern half of Singapore was completed in 2008.)

And with the start of construction last November, the work to reach a turning point in Singapore’s waste management strategy is now in full swing.

The DTSS joins two other projects in the works: The Integrated Waste Management Facility (IWMF) and the Tuas Water Reclamation Plant (TWRP), which for the first time, will see two such facilities co-located on the same site.

This trifecta of projects will be wholly completed in 2027.

But much has already gone on behind the scenes, especially to make the co-located Tuas facility the centrepiece of an innovative and greener waste disposal system.

FOOD FOR THOUGHT

The S$3-billion IWMF, a solid-waste management facility, will sort household recyclables, treat food waste as well as incinerate trash and sludge – a by-product of treating used water – all on a single site.

This will get more bang for the buck and break new ground for Singapore, as the processing of these various waste streams has been done in separate locations until now.

Tests on the technology to be installed in the Tuas plant are now being conducted, such as the mixing of food waste with sludge from used water to increase energy production.

This requires machines called digesters, which process the organic matter in used water sludge and food waste, breaking it down into biogas and carbon dioxide.

The biogas is then used to generate electricity on site, with the excess power sent to the national energy grid.

Sludge collected from sewage treatment has long been processed in this way, for example at the Changi Water Reclamation Plant.

But it was only recently – after years of rising food wastage but a stagnant recycling rate – that food waste has been turned into fuel prior to incineration.

Singapore’s first co-digestion test facility, in Ulu Pandan Water Reclamation Plant, was completed just over a year ago, and is processing a few tonnes of food waste a day.

“The fat, oil, grease, carbohydrates and proteins that are in the food waste, when combined with the used water sludge, will help to generate more biogas,” explained the PUB plant’s general manager Kelvin Koh.

“(Testing) such a full-scale application will help us to gain operational experience, identify potential gaps as well as ... build up to a full-fledged facility, in the future, at Tuas," he added.

He was speaking on Channel NewsAsia’s two-part special Looking Ahead, which examines how Singapore’s mega infrastructure projects are positioning the nation for the future. (Watch the episode here.)

ENERGY SUSTAINABILITY

With a solid-waste and a used-water facility on the same site, sludge and food waste will be easily available to make biogas. But that will not be the site’s only energy capability.

Like the four existing incineration plants, in the process of incinerating waste, the facility will produce electricity to run its operations, for long-term sustainability. Its incineration capacity will be sufficient to power 300,000 four-room Housing and Development Board flats.

In comparison with that, the 1,600 megawatt hour produced each day by the Tuas South Incineration Plant – which is Singapore’s largest waste-to-energy plant now – is enough to power 125,000 four-room HDB flats, about the area of Ang Mo Kio estate.

The co-location of facilities will ensure energy efficiency too.

“The processing of multiple waste streams at the IWMF and the co-location with the TWRP will enable the two facilities to maximise energy and resource recovery, and optimise land,” said IWMF project director Joseph Boey, from the National Environment Agency.

“The co-location has marked a new chapter. For future projects, we’ll continue to explore such set-ups, look into more synergies and attain even greater environment sustainability.”

SAVING LAND

Planning for the future is not only about energy, but also about land use.

For example, to keep water reclamation compact in Tuas, relevant technology is being monitored at another test facility in the Ulu Pandan Water Reclamation Plant, while helping with Singapore’s long-term water demands.

In conventional water reclamation, dirty water passes through a settling tank followed by a microfiltration system. But that process can be combined using a membrane bioreactor.

“In that sense, we’re able to save space and have a more efficient footprint of our plant,” said PUB senior engineer Anne Marie Ang. She added that the membrane tank has been able to yield water of “clearer quality”.

This puts the Tuas Water Reclamation Plant, a key component of the DTSS, on course to have the largest membrane bioreactor facility in the world.

The space saved with such investments in waste management will also go beyond the walls of the Tuas compound.

Once the second phase of the DTSS is in place – with tunnels built to last 100 years – the water reclamation plants in Ulu Pandan and Jurong will be phased out progressively.

As the tunnel system is being constructed at a gradient, the used water will be carried to the Tuas plant by gravity – without the need for intermediate pumping stations. These, too, will be demolished.

The entire DTSS will halve the area taken up by used-water infrastructure, from 300 hectares in the 1990s to 150 ha in the long term. This land freed up for higher-value development is equivalent to about 214 football fields.

TRAFFIC CONTROL

The roads are another space where efforts in waste management will make more of a difference, with the pneumatic waste conveyance system.

This automated system uses vacuum suction in an underground pipe network to collect household waste from multiple apartment blocks and deposit the waste in a bin centre.

With a central collection site, waste disposal lorries will not have to go from block to block. This will help to reduce traffic in housing areas, among other improvements to liveability, while residents can dispose of their rubbish as usual.

More than 100 private residential developments have become early adopters. And from April, installation of the system will be mandatory for new non-landed private developments with at least 500 homes.

Meanwhile, the HDB is implementing it in new developments where possible, including Tampines North, Punggol, Bidadari and Sengkang. The authority is also studying the pilot test of the system in Yuhua, before deciding on its feasibility for other existing estates.

Ease of transport is already a consideration elsewhere in the waste management loop.

At the Changi Water Reclamation Plant, after energy is extracted from sludge, the remainder is dried to reduce its volume and weight before it is incinerated in the western part of Singapore, and the ash taken to the Pulau Semakau landfill.

“We have about 13 trucks a day come to Changi to remove dewatered and dried sludge to our incineration plants. Without (the sludge dryers), we’d need 30 trucks a day,” said the PUB plant’s general manager Low Pei Chin.'

A CALL FOR CHANGE

One problem that is getting bigger, however, is the amount of wastage in Singapore: In 2016 alone, enough rubbish to fill 15,000 Olympic-sized swimming pools. This includes everything from the junk tossed out of homes to construction debris.

“It’s an urgent issue,” said Ministry of the Environment and Water Resources director (Environmental Policy Division) Ng Chun Pin. “So it’s very important for us to push (for) a strong national consciousness among Singaporeans, towards zero waste.”

The overall recycling rate is 61 per cent. This includes industrial and commercial waste. But households are not doing enough.

“The domestic household recycling rate hasn’t improved for many years, hovering at about 21 per cent in the last decade. To put it simply, our recycling habits haven’t kept up with purchasing habits,” said Mr Ng.

“We change our clothes, laptops and mobile phones – and much more frequently, with little or no recycling. We don’t reuse, we don’t repair, and many of these items, unused (and) brand new, end up prematurely in our incinerators.”

Without a change in habits, there will be consequences. At the current rate, a new incineration plant would be needed every seven to 10 years to keep up with the increase in solid waste.

And that is not the investment Mr Ng hopes Singapore will have to make. He said: “We’d rather build HDB flats, hospitals and schools for Singaporeans, not expensive landfills and incinerators.”

Watch this episode of Looking Ahead here.

Source: CNA/dp


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Pair with sugar gliders busted at checkpoint

Straits Times 16 Feb 18;

Immigration officers at the Woodlands Checkpoint made a "sweet" find in the early hours of Valentine's Day - two sugar gliders hidden in a car coming into Singapore.

The two animals, which are small, omnivorous, nocturnal gliding marsupials that live in trees, were found inside a pouch.

Officers from the Immigration and Checkpoints Authority of Singapore (ICA) also found 44 cartons and 210 packets of duty-unpaid cigarettes, hidden inside the dashboard and centre console of the car.

ICA officers referred the driver, a 25-year-old man, and the passenger, a 20-year-old woman, both Singaporeans, to the Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority of Singapore.

The duty-unpaid cigarettes and vehicle were handed over to Singapore Customs for further investigations.

In a Facebook post yesterday, the ICA reminded travellers not to import or keep wild animals as pets.

Under the Animals and Birds Act, it is an offence to bring into Singapore any animal without an import licence.


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