Refuse Collects Here, but Visitors and Wildlife Can Breathe Free – NYTimes.com
Refuse Collects Here, but Visitors and Wildlife Can Breathe Free – NYTimes.com.
Waiting lists for selective colleges, fine restaurants and overbooked flights are familiar enough — but Singapore may have the only landfill with a four-month wait once you sign up to visit. Then again, this landfill is no dump. It’s a manmade island that resembles a nature preserve, despite the 9.8 million tons of incinerated waste lying just a foot under the parklike surface.
Singapore’s land scarcity — the city-state is smaller than Rhode Island — has led the government to develop innovative waste disposal techniques. Among them is an island off the southern part of the mainland that opened after Singapore’s last city dump, Lorong Halus, closed in 1999. By joining two small islands in an area roughly the size of Central Park, the government created Semakau Landfill, Singapore’s first offshore dumping ground, and now a popular local getaway.
Semakau Landfill is the only active landfill that receives incinerated and industrial waste while supporting a thriving ecosystem, which includes more than 700 types of plants and animals and several endangered species. “Even though we operate a landfill, biodiversity is still thriving,” said Ong Chong Peng, Semakau Landfill’s general manager. “We want to keep this balance as long as possible.”
Protected species like great-billed herons and Malaysian plovers nest on the island, and endangered Chinese white dolphins have been spotted offshore. The National Environment Agency says the unique landfill system it has created reduces the volume of waste by 90 percent, and adds that 2 percent of Singapore’s power comes from energy generated by four mainland incinerators.
ChrisB – Now I am not sure what the effect of burning all of that trash is on general air pollution, but I haven’t ever heard of another WORKING landfill that has millions of visitors and is home to endangered species. I am glad to see that human innovation is turning the worldwide problem of waste disposal into a solution for energy needs and ecological needs. Those things always seem to be at odds with each other. For once, someone has found a way to make them coincide in a beautiful and meaningful way.