Monday, December 01, 2008

Semakau Landfill

Recently, I visited one of the most amazing places on earth: smack right here in Singapore, and that is Semakau landfill, an offshore landfill that is located some kilometres away from Singapore.

What is so amazing about Semakau Landfill, you may ask? The fact is that Semakau Landfill is the first world’s offshore landfill that is built right from the bottom of the seabed!

Semakau Landfill has been described as the ‘Garbage of Eden’ by the New Scientist and what is so amazing about this landfill is the fact that it is built entirely from non-incinerable ash, these ash are used to landfill the sea between two small islands (Pulau Sakae and Pulau Semakua) as well as around the 7km perimeter bund encircling the two islands. When the lands were reclaimed, nature flourish on the island on its own will and right: mangrove swamps, trees blossomed here by forces of nature and exotic birds like the herons have made this island, reclaimed entirely of non-incinerable ash their homes.

Dolphins have also been sighted in the seas off this island, pink dolphins particularly. Who could have imagined an offshore landfill made up of non-incinerable ash could have become an award-winning gem of nature and biodiversity, attracting international acclaim! Semakau landfill has not been fully reclaimed, 7 of the 11 cells of the island has been reclaimed by the non-incinerable ash hitherto with the whole landfill expected to be fully reclaimed by 2045. When this year comes, Singapore should have explore another alternative to house the non-incinerable ash as there seems to be no place for the dumping of these non-incinerable ash either on the island itself or in the seas in the form of another offshore landfill.

My visit to Semakau landfill is really like stroll in a natural park. This island does not seem artificial nor reeks of stench, rather it is vibrant and sustainable with its rich flora and fauna.

Breezes from the sea are strong and the scenery of the sea, marvellous! Everything on the island seems so well-organized, the roads, the greenery and the visitor centre. The island is a haven for astronomical groups setting up their observation on the stars, marine biodiversity activists exploring the exceptionally diverse biodiversity in the waters off the island, natural trekkers and others who would just want a place away from humdrum Singapore to BBQ, gather with friends and stay here for a night. Semakau landfill has been earmarked for an energy-sustainable pilot project, to be an island which is self-sustaining in energy.

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