Best of our wild blogs: 26 Jun 15

Sea turtle seen at Changi!
wild shores of singapore

Ubin Day 2015 Report
wild shores of singapore

Terumbu Semakau (21062015)
Psychedelic Nature

A beastiary of clams
The annotated budak

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PHI Group Updates on Sand Business With Vietnam and Singapore

PHI Group, Inc. Nasdaq GlobalNewswire 25 Jun 15;

NEW YORK and SINGAPORE, June 25, 2015 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- PHI Group, Inc. (OTCMarkets:PHIL), a U.S. public company engaged in energy and natural resources, today provided an update on the previously announced definitive contract with Vietnam-based KHM JSC to supply up to 125 million metric tons of reclamation sand from Vietnam to Singapore and Asian markets.

PHI Group is in the process of selecting and coordinating with international and domestic dredging, loading and shipping companies that are capable of handling large volume requirements by using specially designed methodologies.

In addition, PHI Group will assist KHM JSC to set up an onsite laboratory to pretest all the products to make sure they meet the required specifications according to international industrial standards for usage in specific government projects. According to the agreement, PHI Group will also utilize its international networks, including its subsidiaries and affiliates, to help facilitate and strengthen KHM's access to international trade channels in order to market and sell KHM's products, including reclamation sand, construction sand and granite especially in the Singapore and Southeast Asian markets.

PHI Group is working with its Singaporean partner Primearth Resources Asia Pte. coordinate further administrative details. Shipments are expected to begin in 45 to 60 days or as soon as practical.

Jalani Haniffa, PHI Group Vice President of Southeast Asia Operations, commented: "We are pleased to have made good progress with respect to logistic and other arrangements and look forward to our first shipment for this contract in the very near future."

- See more at:

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Water treatment plant in Choa Chu Kang first in Singapore to utilise solar power

A total of 3,333 pieces of solar panels were installed at Choa Chu Kang Waterworks, and these can harness enough energy to meet about 7 per cent of the plant's daily energy needs.
Nadia Jansen Hassan Channel NewsAsia 25 Jun 15;

SINGAPORE: The Choa Chu Kang Waterworks (CCKWW) is the first water treatment plant here to tap on solar power for its energy needs.

A total of 3,333 pieces of solar panels were installed at Choa Chu Kang Waterworks, and these can harness enough energy to meet about 7 per cent of the plant's daily energy needs for areas such as lighting and air conditioning, it was revealed during a media briefing on Thursday (Jun 25).

The panels are also expected to generate 1.1 gigawatt hours (GWh) every year - the equivalent to the annual electricity consumption of about 247 Housing and Development Board households. They work by converting sunlight into a renewable energy source, which can be used to power the plant.

It took about a year to complete the construction, which wrapped up in May, 2015. This is part of the Public Utilities Board's (PUB) push towards using more clean and renewable energy, and the agency picked this site to be the pilot project because it is one of the largest waterworks in Singapore, with the capacity to meet up to 20 per cent of the country's water demand.

"It's fed into the same electricity network as the grid energy. What happens is that when the solar panels are producing electricity, this electricity will be consumed first, then the balance will then be produced by the grid energy," said Mr Tan Nguan Sen, Chief Sustainability Officer at PUB.

Environment and Water Resources Minister, Dr Vivian Balakrishnan, said using solar power wherever possible is important for Singapore, despite its compact size.

He said: "The key bottleneck for energy for solar energy in Singapore is land. We don't have enough land. And therefore solar energy can never replace our ultimate dependence on fossil fuels. But to the maximum extent possible, solar energy is green, solar energy is renewable and right now, solar energy is competitive."

PUB is kicking off another solar project in Tengeh Reservoir next year. It will be installing floating solar panels there, and running environmental studies concurrently, to see if they impact the reservoir's water quality, biodiversity and evaporation.

Solar panels will also be set up in three other PUB facilities, in the Changi Water Reclamation Plant, Bedok Waterworks and Waterhub in Toh Guan, by the end of 2017.

- CNA/kk/dl/hs

PUB studies environmental impact of floating solar panels
HOLLY MATTHEWS Today Online 25 Jun 15;

SINGAPORE — Studies are underway to assess the environmental impact of installing floating solar panels at Tengeh reservoir, as the Republic continues to look for ways to optimise land-use for solar power generation.

The Tengeh project was announced last year, and a tender for the contract to build the panels will be launched in September. The environmental study will measure the effect of water-based solar photovoltaic (PV) cells on the reservoir’s water quality, biodiversity and evaporation, by examining these indicators before and after the panels are installed. It is being conducted in collaboration with the National University of Singapore, Nanyang Technological University and DHI Water & Environment, and will end in 2017, a year after the panels are installed.

These updates were shared by PUB during a visit to Choa Chu Kang Waterworks (CCKWW), the first water treatment plant here to be installed with solar panels. During the visit, Environment and Water Resources Minister Vivian Balakrishnan said it is important to optimise the use of land in Singapore, but it would not be possible to cover the nation’s reservoirs, which make up about 5 per cent of Singapore’s land area.

“The appearance of water is still far more beautiful than that of a photovoltaic cell … But where we can, and where it makes economics and operational sense, we will do so,” he said.

CCKWW is the first of four announced PUB facilities to be fitted with PV cells and was chosen as the pilot project because of its large roof area. About 3,300 solar panels now provide an average of 7 per cent of the Waterworks’ daily energy needs since it began operations on May 21.

The panels are estimated to generate 1.1 gigawatt hours per year — the equivalent of the annual electricity of 247 Housing and Development Board (HDB) households. On the cards are PV cells at Changi Water Reclamation plant, Bedok Waterworks and Waterhub. PUB aims to have all new plants and selected existing plants outfitted with solar panels by 2020.

Currently, about 70 per cent of CCKWW is covered with solar panels, said PUB chief sustainability officer Tan Nguan Sen. “Because of this huge area we have, we are able to supply a lot of energy,” he said.

With the global prices of PV cells falling, Dr Balakrishnan said it makes sense to fit solar panels on as many buildings and PUB facilities as possible. “Solar energy is green, renewable, and right now, solar energy is competitive with grid energy.”

The Government is moving to tap solar power on a larger scale. Earlier this month, it called its first tender for PV panels to be installed across multiple public-sector premises — which will include 900 HDB blocks — to collectively produce about 40 megawatts (peak) of power.

PUB powers up with solar energy
Samantha Boh Straits Times AsiaOne 26 Jun 15;

Minister for the Environment and Water Resources Vivian Balakrishnan on a tour of Choa Chu Kang Waterworks yesterday. With him was Mr Albert Lim, managing director of SolarGy, which installed the solar panels.

NATIONAL water agency PUB's Choa Chu Kang water treatment facility is now partly run by solar energy from more than 3,300 solar panels, which will cut its carbon dioxide emissions by some 500 tonnes every year.

The energy will be used to power a portion of the plant's lighting, air-conditioning and water treatment operations, amounting to 7 per cent of its average daily energy consumption.

Spanning about 6,700 sq m, the panels can generate the equivalent of the annual energy consumption of about 250 Housing Board households.

The installation of the solar panels was done under a 20-year power purchase agreement, under which the $2.3 million cost of installation was borne by the supplier, RCS Engineering, and sub- contractor SolarGy. PUB had to pay only for the solar energy subsequently generated.

During a tour of the Choa Chu Kang Waterworks yesterday, Minister for the Environment and Water Resources Vivian Balakrishnan said with the fall in prices of solar panels, solar energy is now in fact cheaper to use than energy from the grid, which is supplied here mainly from natural gas.

"The beauty about the current project is that there has been no capital cost to PUB up front and we literally save money from Day 1," he said. He said PUB will roll out solar photovoltaic (PV) cells at its facilities on land and water in the next few years.

The goal is to cut the amount of imported energy for the production of water by half, using PV systems and bio-gas converted from used water. Its only other solar project now is at Marina Barrage, which supplements daytime electricity for offices there, and the Sustainable Singapore Gallery.

PUB chief sustainability officer Tan Nguan Sen said considerations to be made before a building is singled out for the installation of a solar PV system include whether there is enough space, whether the roof structure is strong enough and whether the building is new enough so that it will not be rebuilt in the next 20 years.

The next facilities to have PV systems will be its Changi Water Reclamation Plant, the Bedok Waterworks treatment plant and Waterhub, a PUB training centre.

PUB's efforts are part of a government push to harness solar power. At the end of the first quarter of this year, total installed capacity of solar PVs was 33.8 megawatt-peak (MWp), up from 18.7 MWp a year ago, according to Energy Market Authority data.

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Up close with a cold and inconvenient truth

TAN CHEE WEE Today Online 25 Jun 15;

After more than 22,000km of connecting flights and another two days across the infamous Drake Passage — the vast body of water between the southern tip of South America and Antarctica — I was suddenly surrounded by cheers of “land ahoy”.

Along with 81 other expedition participants, I was greeted by a tabular iceberg on the sea horizon. Broken off the west Antarctica ice shelves, the iceberg was the size of more than 20 football fields. Its size was so astounding, it took my breath away on the start of my journey to discover the Antarctic — the last pristine place on Earth.

Having heard so much about its beauty and wildlife and inspired by the works of Mr Robert Swan, the first man who walked to North and South Poles, I jumped at the opportunity to join him and participants from 26 countries in the 2041 International Antarctic Expedition (IAE). The name of the expedition is in itself a reminder that in 2041, the Protocol on Environmental Protection to the Antarctic Treaty could potentially be modified or amended. Thus, these expeditions are part of a movement aimed at working towards the continuing protection of the Antarctic Treaty so that this last great wilderness is never exploited.

Witnessing the effects of climate change first-hand was a poignant moment for me. The inconvenient truth was plain to see: The massive iceberg that greeted us was floating unrestricted and melting in the Antarctic sea, and as some media reports have indicated, in the worst case scenario, Antarctica’s melt could push sea levels up 3m worldwide in a century or two, disrupting ecosystems and environments.

A few other defining moments stood out. First was the polar plunge. With my heart pounding and blood pumping with adrenaline, I dived into the icy Antarctic waters. It was painfully fun but I am glad I got that box ticked. The second was gazing from my sleeping bag, at the Milky Way which was spectacularly beautiful. The last and best moment was my conversation with Mr Swan, where we talked about how privileged we were that our work and motivations are aligned to great causes.

As a manager in climate change and sustainability services at EY, I advise clients on corporate sustainability practices and related issues. Yet, the message on the fundamental importance of arresting climate change has never been so clear to me till now.

Reflecting on our urban lifestyles in Singapore, often shielded in air-conditioned offices or homes, a chilling thought that our shoreline may not last beyond another generation hit me hard.

And to bring about true change in our attitudes and behaviour will require individuals, businesses and regulators to all play their part.


Last September, the European Union joined Australia, South Africa, India, Hong Kong, Brazil and others in requiring large companies and groups to disclose non-financial and diversity information on policies, risks and outcomes regarding environmental and social matters.

Investors have joined in the fold as well. Many institutional investors are factoring in environment, social and governance information, particularly their related risks, when making investment decisions.

The Singapore Exchange has begun consultation with listed companies on “comply or explain” sustainability reporting. This growing interest on sustainability reporting has implications for businesses as the concept takes root in boardrooms and the minds of consumers.

Based on a report published by EY in association with Global Reporting Initiative, sustainability reporting could be reaching a “tipping point”. The drivers and benefits of sustainability reporting are increasing in prominence, and standards, regulations and transparency are making sustainability practices more mainstream.

Beyond just regulatory obligations, public concerns and customer expectations over greenhouse gas emissions, waste and water management, and other societal issues are also driving corporate interest in sustainability. Amid resource constraints, whether due to climate change, decreasing supplies, geopolitics, price increases or sustainability concerns, firms are seeking to manage their operations and business more efficiently.

The business case for environmental sustainability is clear. Research by Harvard Business School has shown that high sustainability firms dramatically outperform in terms of stock market performance and accounting measures in the long term.

While the business case for change may not always be altruistic in nature, the fact that investors are increasingly favouring businesses that embrace sustainability practices serves as a wake-up call for many.

As the saying goes: “We do not inherit the earth from our ancestors; we borrow it from our children”. The question we need to constantly ask ourselves is: How far can and will we go to be responsible guardians?


Tan Chee Wee is manager, climate change and sustainability services at EY in Singapore. T he views expressed here are his own.

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Malaysia: Moderate haze shrouds Penang

The Star 25 Jun 15;

GEORGE TOWN: Penangites woke up to a hazy morning with the Air Pollutant Index (API) readings on the island and mainland at moderate level.

The Department of Environment online portal showed that the API reading at its monitoring station in Universiti Sains Malaysia was 59 at 6am, before worsening to 62 at 11am.

The reading deteriorated further to 64 at 2pm.

At Seberang Jaya 2, the station recorded an API of 73 at 6am before increasing to 74 at 11am, and worsened to 76 at 2pm yesterday.

Over at Prai, the API was 62 at 6am before going up to 63 at 11am. It later rose to 65 at 2pm.

An API reading of between 0 and 50 is considered good, 51 to 100 (moderate), 101 to 200 (unhealthy), 201 to 300 (very unhealthy), and 301 and above (hazardous).

The Malaysian Meteorological Department forecasts cloudy and fair weather until next week.

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Malaysia: Thai rice supply not affected

The Star 25 Jun 15;

PETALING JAYA: The ongoing drought in Thailand will not affect Malaysia’s supply of imported rice.

Agriculture and Agro-based Industry Deputy Minister Datuk Seri Tajuddin Abdul Rahman said his ministry, which was monitoring the situation in Thailand, was prepared to ensure it would not affect the country’s stockpile.

“However, if the drought does affect our supply, we can direct Padiberas Nasional Bhd (Bernas) to look for other sources including from other Asean countries.

“So far, there is no issue of supply problem,” he said yesterday.

Malaysia imports about one million tonnes of rice yearly, of which between 80% and 90% come from Thailand. Malaysians are estimated to consume about 2.702 million tonnes of rice per year with Bernas importing about 30% to 40% the demand.

Following the rice crisis of 2008, the Government had increased the national stockpile level from 92,000 metric tonnes to 292,000 metric tonnes at any one time.

Thailand is currently battling drought in eight of 76 provinces, but 31 other provinces are faced with the risk of drought, Thailand’s Interior Ministry said.

The ongoing drought will cut major rice exporter Thailand’s 2015 off-season crop by over 30%, according to the latest report from Thailand’s Office of Agricultural Economics.

Tajuddin said Thailand government representatives attending Asean’s Food and Agriculture Business Environment in post-2015 meeting in Hanoi had given their assurance to the ministry that they were committed to fulfilling the demand from Malaysia.

He also gave an assurance that Bernas had committed to a long-term deal with Thailand’s rice suppliers who must meet all the conditions agreed upon.

“I am sure when they entered the agreement, they will have considered the best terms, including pricing, quality, safety and delivery,” said Tajuddin.

“They have to make sure that there will be no hiccup in terms of transportation and distribution.

“This is because the supply of rice is critical to the people of the country,” he added.

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Philippines: Red tide warning up in Masbate, Davao Oriental, and Bohol

Alyosha J. Robillos, CNN Philippines 26 Jun 15;

The Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources warned against the harvesting, sale, and consumption of shellfish from areas in Masbate, Bohol, and Davao Oriental.
Metro Manila (CNN Philippines) — The Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) released on Wednesday (June 24) a red tide bulletin announcing that shellfish collected from certain areas in Masbate, Bohol, and Davao Oriental are not fit for human consumption.

According to BFAR and local government units, shellfish from the coastal waters of Mandaon, Masbate and from Balite Bay in Mati, Davao Oriental remain positive for "paralytic shellfish poison that is beyond regulatory limit."

Laboratory results also showed that specimen collected from the coastal waters of Dauis in Bohol now have the red tide toxin.

While BFAR warned against the harvesting, sale, and consumption of shellfish and Acetes sp. (or tiny, krill-like prawns) from the mentioned areas, the bureau assured the public that fish, squid, shrimp, and crabs "are safe for human consumption" as long as they are "fresh and washed thoroughly."

BFAR also advised the public another thing: To remove internal organs and gills before cooking.

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