Best of our wild blogs: 1 May 14

It's Fruiting Season! Durians and Breadfruits at Chek Jawa from Adventures with the Naked Hermit Crabs

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Report food waste data, malls and hotels

Walter Sim The Straits Times AsiaOne 1 May 14;

SINGAPORE - About 250 shopping malls and hotels will need to report waste and recycling data to the National Environment Agency (NEA) from next year.

They must state the weight of waste discarded and that channelled for reuse and recycling, broken down by type, such as paper, metals and food. Their reports must reach the agency by the first quarter of next year.

Companies must also submit waste reduction plans.

The amount of waste generated in Singapore has been rising over the years. Last year, some 7.85 million tonnes were generated, up from 7.27 million tonnes in 2012. The 2011 figure was 6.9 million tonnes.

This compulsory exercise is aimed at hotels with more than 200 rooms, and malls with net lettable areas of over 50,000 sq ft.

An NEA spokesman, responding to queries from The Straits Times, said: "Large commercial premises are generally less responsive to potential savings from reducing waste as waste disposal costs account for only about 3 per cent of their total utilities bill.

"We hope to draw and sustain greater management attention on the waste produced by the premises."

The agency said it will use the data to work with companies to improve waste management plans, through the "sharing of best practices".

There are no incentives for the companies that fare better.

Affected businesses say they are supportive of the programme, and are working with external vendors to monitor their respective waste situation.

A spokesman for Suntec City Mall said it adopts a "collaborative approach" with its tenants, and closely monitors waste and recycling.

Marina Bay Sands (MBS) president and chief executive officer George Tanasijevich said waste management forms an "integral" part of its sustainability efforts.

"We are targeting to achieve a 30 per cent waste diversion rate by end of this year and have plans to continuously improve our recycling rate," he said.

MBS generates reports on waste and recycling on a twice- monthly basis with the help of its external waste vendor, and conducts quarterly audits, he said.

It also has an on-site food waste liquefier that can divert up to 2 tonnes of food waste per day.

Likewise, Royal Plaza on Scotts' general manager Patrick Fiat said it already receives a monthly report from its waste vendor.

The hotel is also looking to increase its recycling efforts beyond the 2,000 kg of materials it recycles yearly.

As food waste continues to hit new highs, the Government is also pledging to do more to combat the issue.

The Straits Times reported last month that a record high of 796,000 tonnes of food was dumped in 2013.

Only about 13 per cent was recycled.

The amount of food waste - including cooked food and expired packaged products - last year was a 42.4 per cent leap from the 2007 figure, far outpacing the 17.7 per cent growth in population.

Minister of State for National Development Maliki Osman told The Straits Times that the Government is looking at "continual education to drive home the importance of moderation... and not to take our food for granted".

"We have done a good job conserving our water and energy over the past few years," he said, adding Singaporeans should be as conscientious in conserving food.

Singapore Environment Council chief executive Jose Raymond said he hopes the mandatory reporting exercise could be expanded to include caterers, all hotels, food industries and food and beverage retail outlets, including food courts, so as to curtail food waste.

He urged the Government to consider further legislation to impose fines on industries and companies who contribute to "excessive and unregulated amounts of food waste".

Eligible companies that fail to submit the report, as required under the Environmental Public Health Act, will be liable to a fine of up to $5,000.

Subsequent offences will carry a fine of up to $10,000, a jail term of up to three months, or both.


Amount of waste generated in...

2011: 6.9 million tonnes

2012: 7.27 million tonnes

2013: About 7.85 million tonnes

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Malaysia: End of water rationing for 6 million users

NURADILLA NOORAZAM New Straits Times 1 May 14;

NEARLY THERE: This despite water in Sg Selangor dam yet to reach desired level

SHAH ALAM: FOR over six million consumers who have been putting up with water rationing over the past few months, the state government's decision to end the exercise is a much welcomed move.

Menteri Besar Tan Sri Abdul Khalid Ibrahim said water overflow in some rivers of the state and heavy rainfall recorded in the past few weeks had prompted the state government to reach the decision, which came into effect today.

He said the decision was made following a meeting between the state government, state water concessionaires, National Water Services Commission (SPAN) and the Selangor Water Management Authority (LUAS) on Monday.

"We decided to end the water rationing exercise even though the Sungai Selangor dam's water level has not reached its desired capacity of 50 per cent.

"As of yesterday, the reading was 40 per cent. However, continuous downpour for the past few weeks has allowed the state government to reconsider our decision."

He said water was being pumped from several overflowed rivers into the dams.

"We can use the overflowed water and pump them into the dams to increase the water levels."

The state government had informed Syarikat Bekalan Air Selangor Sdn Bhd (Syabas) of its decision and instructed it to discontinue water rationing for Phase 1 to Phase 4, starting today.

He said the state government's plan to pump water from an old mining pool near Bistari Jaya would continue with 10 pumps being used at present and another 10 more to be utilised next month.

He dismissed reports on health risks and contamination of pool water, saying the state government had conducted a number of researches on water quality since 2009.

"Before we made the decision to use water from the old mining pools, we have conducted researches every year to determine the water quality.

"We are confident to say that the water does not have any risk of contamination as claimed by certain quarters. The samples we brought back and studied had passed vigorous tests by the state health department.

"We also use a three- tiered filtering process to ensure that the water that reaches our customer is safe for consumption.

"If we keep extracting and pumping water from the pools, our water supply can last for more than five to six months than originally expected."

Khalid said the state government would look at enriching the usage of reservoirs and extracting groundwater under its Hybrid Off River Augmentation System technology.

"Our efforts to extract water from the earth, reservoirs and rivers are part of our contingency plans to face the dry season, expected from May to September.

"If all of our plans to restore water supply go uninterrupted, the supply will last us until 2050."

On the state government's plan to use rainmaking technology for cloud seeding from a neighbouring country, Khalid said he had written a letter to Defence Minister Datuk Seri Hishamuddin Hussein asking for permission.

On the construction of Langat 2 water treatment plant which was supposed to start yesterday, he said he hoped to see Energy, Green Technology and Water Minister Datuk Seri Dr Maximus Ongkili on the project's details.

On the state water restructuring exercise, Khalid said two of the four state water concessionaires had requested for the government to not invoke Section 114 of the Water Services Industry Act 2006 .

"I will meet Ongkili and the water concessionaires to fine-tune this deal as it has already taking a lot of our time.

"Personally, I would like to see Section 114 to be invoked, but we will see how it goes when we meet again to discuss the matter soon."

Water rationing ends today
wani muthiah, manjit kaur, a. ruban, isabelle lai, michelle tam, g. surach, joe pagnelli, brenda ch'ng, AND yvonne t. nathan The Star 1 May 14;

SHAH ALAM: Residents in Selangor, Kuala Lumpur and Putrajaya need no longer suffer the inconvenience of water rationing beginning today.

Selangor Mentri Besar Tan Sri Khalid Ibrahim said the water rationing exercise would end today.

All areas affected by the rationing will receive normal supply of water beginning today and the latest by Friday for localities with low water pressure, Khalid told a press conference after chairing the weekly exco meeting yesterday.

He said the decision to lift the water rationing was collectively made in a meeting on Monday attended by the Water Services Commission (SPAN), the Selangor Water Management Council (Luas), Kumpulan Semesta Sdn Bhd (KSSB) and the water concessionaire companies.

The state government had conveyed the decision to Syarikat Bekalan Air Selangor Sdn Bhd (Syabas) which has been directed to ensure that consumers get their water back to normal, said Khalid.

He said the state government decided there wasn’t a necessity to wait for the dam to reach the 50% mark as it was confident that efforts such as pumping water from ponds into the Sungai Selangor dam as well as continuing rain at catchment areas would increase the dam’s water level.

“When we decided to consider (lifting the rationing) last week, the water level in the dam was about 37% to 38%,” said Khalid.

He added that the state government was at that time concerned about lifting water rationing without preparing itself for the dry spell expected soon.

“So before we decided to lift the water rationing, we asked our engineers to find out how much water we had from other sources that was available for contingency.

“Based on that calculation, we assume we would have water to last everyone for five to six months,” explained Khalid, adding that the water level at the Sungai Selangor dam currently stood at 40%.

Khalid said the state government and all relevant bodies would be stringently monitoring the water level at the dam to ensure it was on the rise.

The Mentri Besar, who could not say if water rationing would be implemented again, said the decision to call off the rationing would be reviewed from time to time.

Asked whether the rationing was being called off in time for the PKR polls, in which he will be contesting for the deputy party president’s post, Khalid denied it.

He also refuted claims that the rationing was being called off upon the instructions of Selangor economic adviser Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim.

“The calling off of water rationing has nothing to do with the PKR elections as the decision was not mine alone but made collectively and professionally by relevant parties,” he said.

On the safety of the water that was being pumped into Sungai Selangor from disused mining pools, Khalid said the water had been long tested for its safety.

The pools that would provide alternative water supply had been identified by Luas since 2009, said Khalid, adding that samples had been tested in 2011, 2012 and 2013.

He said the exco in charge of infrastructure Dr Yunus Hairi would be explaining the tests carried out on the water samples soon.

“He will explain if there is metal residue in the water and we will also get chemists’ reports,” added Khalid.

There were three levels of testing and all levels must be passed before the water went to consumers, he said.

In KANGAR, Bernama reported SPAN chairman Datuk Ismail Kasim as saying that consumers would be able to use water as normal from today.

Any decision to continue the scheduled water distribution would be made depending on the water level at the dam and raw water capacity, he said.

Geologist: Heavy metal pollution at some mining pools
The Star 1 May 14;

PETALING JAYA: Several disused mining pools at Bestari Jaya still show signs of heavy metal pollution and are unsuitable as an alternative water supply, says a geologist from Universiti Malaya.

Following a study visit with several students to the site in Kuala Selangor two weeks ago, Dr Muhammad Aqeel Ashraf said some of the mining pools observed were unsafe for use as alternative water supply.

“Most of the 108 mining pools in the area are safe to be used as an alternative source of water, but several of them have a green-coloured hue, which is a sign for a number of metal elements in the water,” he said when contacted yesterday.

The affected pools were usually the deep ones, measuring between 30 and 40 metres, he added.

Dr Muhammad Aqeel said there was also a high risk of polluted sediments entering the disused mining pools with heavy sand mining.

“The overall area is very big and chances of pollution from former and current mining activities remain high.”

Dr Muhammad Aqeel conducted a study in the area in 2010 for his doctorate titled Study of Water Quality and Heavy Metals in Soil & Water of Ex-Mining Area Bestari Jaya, Peninsular Malaysia along with fellow researchers at UM’s chemistry and geology departments.

The study suggested that the physio-chemical and metal content in the area exceeded permissible limits set by Malaysian Water Quality Standards.

The study reported that the level of degradation in the water quality and severe heavy metal pollution in the Bestari Jaya mining ponds was a major environmental challenge to the ecosystem and posed a potential source of pollution to Sungai Selangor, the end recipient.

In light of yesterday’s announcement on the lifting of the water rationing exercise, Selangor Mentri Besar Tan Sri Abdul Khalid Ibrahim gave his assurance that mining pool water was safe.

“The mining pools have been identified as alternative water sources by the Selangor Water Management Authority since 2009,” he said.

Meanwhile, Coalition Against the Privatisation of Water coordinator Charles Santiago said the state government should produce a letter from the Chemistry Department and the Health Ministry stating that the mining pool water was not contaminated before dumping it into Sungai Selangor.

“The letters must state that the pool water does not contain arsenic, zinc, tin and other heavy metal residue which has serious health implications,” said Santiago, who is also Klang MP.

He added that the treatment plants were not equipped to treat water containing heavy metal residue.

He said unlike the practice in other counties, the mining pools here were not treated and rehabilitated when they became redundant.

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Malaysia: International oil and gas firms keen to invest in Pengerang

International O&G firms keen to invest in PIPC
New Straits Times 30 Apr 14;

JOHOR BARU: Several international oil and gas consortiums have shown deep interest to invest in the Pengerang Integrated Petroleum Complex (PIPC) project, said Johor Petroleum Development Corporation Bhd (JPDC).
JPDC chief executive Mohd Yazid Jaafar said the corporation is in the midst of pitching to several potential investors for them to be part of the multi-billion oil and gas project.

"A lot of them (international consortiums) are interested, however we are still at the early stage. One is actually in advance talks and the other two or three, (the talks) are at the early stages.

"They are still evaluating, still conducting their feasibility studies and when the time is right we will make the announcement," he told the media after a briefing on the progress of PIPC here today.

Covering more than 8,000 hectares (ha), the PIPC, which includes the Petronas-led Refinery and Petrochemical Integrated Development (RAPID), will transform Johor into a sustainable, world-class downstream oil and gas hub.

The total potential investment in PIPC could surpass RM170 billion, with Petronas alone is slated to spend RM89 billion in the RAPID project which is expected to come on stream in early 2019.

PIPC's core activities are refineries, petrochemical plants, liquefied natural gas (LNG) storage tanks, power plant, regasification plant, oil storage tanks and naphtha crackers.

Mohd Yazid declined to divulge details on the international consortiums' origins or on the quantum of their potential investment in PIPC.

"What I can say is that, they are not so much from Europe and it involved more than one international consortiums," he said, adding there were not many places which offered facilities like what Pengerang is offering, apart from China.

He said Petronas' decision to approve its Final Investment Decision (FID) on RAPID early this month has boosted the confidence of investors planning to invest in PIPC.

"Petronas' decision to invest (in RAPID) holds the key because in this particular development, Petronas is the pathfinder, the catalyst and the anchor tenant," said Mohd Yazid.

As of mid-March this year, he said Petronas had completed 80 per cent of phase one on site preparation and earthwork.

As of December last year, the national oil company had inked three Heads of Agreements with Italy's Versalis SpA, Itochu from Japan and Germany's Evonik to
build specialty chemicals.

Petronas' RAPID covers 2,496.8ha and consists of 300,000-barrel-per-day refinery which will be ready for start up in early 2019, naphtha cracker, LNG
regasification plant, power generation plant and between 20 and 24 petrochemical plants.

According to Mohd Yazid, JPDC had received a lot of queries from potential investors interested to become partners in PIPC, which could be attributed to Petronas' FID to proceed with RAPID.

On the issue of supply of raw water to PIPC, he said Johor will still be the party responsible for ensuring the availability of raw water to the project, but will be assisted by Petronas.

Earlier in his briefing, Mohd Yazid said phase one of Dialog-Vopak's Pengerang Independent Deepwater Petroleum Terminal (PIDPT) has begun operations on April 12 this year when it received its first oil-laden ship.

Since then, the terminal, which will have five million cubic metres of oil storage capacity upon full completion, have received eight more ships.-- Bernama

Read more: International O&G firms keen to invest in PIPC - Latest - New Straits Times

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Human litter found in Europe's deepest ocean depths

Seabed survey reveals depth of marine litter problem by mapping waste in Atlantic and Arctic oceans and Mediterranean
Jessica Aldred 30 Apr 14;

Bottles, plastic bags, fishing nets and other human litter have been found in Europe's deepest ocean depths, according one of the largest scientific surveys of the seafloor to date.

Scientists used video and trawl surveys to take nearly 600 samples from 32 sites in the Atlantic and Arctic oceans and the Mediterranean Sea, from depths of 35 metres to 4.5 kilometres. They found rubbish in every Mediterranean site surveyed, and all the way from the continental shelf of Europe to the mid-Atlantic ridge, around 2,000km from land.

Plastic was the most common type of litter found on the seafloor, accounting for 41%, while rubbish associated with fishing activities (discarded net and fishing lines) made up 34%. Glass, metal, wood, paper and cardboard, clothing, pottery and unidentified materials were also documented.

Jonathan Copley, senior lecturer in marine ecology at the University of Southampton, who did not take part in the study, said: "This very important research confirms what most of us who work in the deep ocean have noticed for quite some time – that human rubbish has got there before us.

"But this paper presents an analysis of the kinds of rubbish, what is common where, and what sort of activities are having the most impact in terms of rubbish reaching the deep ocean in different regions. People are piecing this together on a global scale to appreciate how widespread this problem is potentially."

As more of Europe's deep seafloor is being explored, litter is being revealed as far more widespread than previously thought. While individual studies have used trawling to quantify the amount of litter in particular areas or remotely operated vehicles to study the types of waste, this paper is the first to analyse the patterns of distribution and abundance of litter across different underwater geographical settings and depths.

The most dense accumulations of litter were found in deep underwater canyons, and the lowest density on continental shelves and ocean ridges, according to the international study involving 15 European organisations.

Dr Kerry Howell, associate professor at Plymouth University's Marine Institute, who took part in the study, said: "This survey has shown that human litter is present in all marine habitats, from beaches to the most remote and deepest parts of the oceans. Most of the deep sea remains unexplored by humans and these are our first visits to many of these sites, but we were shocked to find that our rubbish has got there before us."

Litter disposal and accumulation in the marine environment is one of the fastest growing threats the health of the world's oceans, with an estimated 6.4m tonnes of litter entering the oceans each year.

Plastics are by far the most abundant material, introducing toxic chemicals that can be lethal to marine fauna and break down into "microplastics" that have become the most abundant form of solid-waste pollution on Earth. Plastic pollution has also been found to be changing microbial processes in the ocean.

Besides the visible impact of marine pollution, litter can be mistaken as food and ingested by a wide variety of marine organisms. Entanglement in derelict fishing gear – known as "ghost fishing" – is a serious threat to mammals, turtles, birds and corals. Floating litter also facilitates the transfer of alien species to new habitats.

Scientists said one interesting discovery made in the study related to seafloor deposits of clinker – the residue of burnt coal dumped by steam ships from the late 18th century onwards.

Marine biologist Dr Eva Ramirez-Llodra said: "We have known that clinker occurs on the deep-sea bed for some time, but what we found was the accumulation of clinker is closely related with modern shipping routes, indicating that the main shipping corridors have not been altered in the last two centuries."

The report also showed the path that materials such as plastics can take, originating from coastal and land sources and being carried along continental shelves and slopes into deep water.

Dr Veerle Huvenne, seafloor and habitat mapping team leader at the National Oceanography Centre, Southampton, said: "Submarine canyons form the main connection between shallow coastal waters and the deep sea. Canyons that are located close to major coastal towns and cities, such as the Lisbon canyon offshore Portugal, or the Blanes canyon offshore Barcelona, can funnel litter straight to water depths of 4,500m or more."

The paper, Marine litter distribution and density in European Seas, from the shelves to deep basins, was published in the journal PLOS ONE.

The study was led by the University of the Azores, and is a collaboration between the Mapping the Deep Project led by Plymouth University and the Hermione Project, coordinated by the National Oceanography Centre, Southampton.

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