Best of our wild blogs: 31 Jan 17

Not ok to take Giant clams and shells!
wild shores of singapore

Sat 4th Feb 2017 – World Wetlands Day coastal cleanup at Lim Chu Kang beach and mangrove
Otterman speaks

Project empty shells – Terumbu Selegi

CNY Day 1: Semakau South
wonderful creation

CNY Day 2: Terumbu Selegi
wonderful creation

CNY Day 3: Seringat-Kias
wonderful creation

Otters at Gardens by the Bay
My Nature Experiences

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Johor town makes a business out of Singapore's used fridges

Residents fix and sell imported old appliances, but experts worry unsafe e-waste dumping could be taking place - in an expose on The Trash Trail.
Steffi Koh Channel NewsAsia 30 Jan 17;

JOHOR: Refrigerators of every size, model and age line the dusty streets of a town in Johor, Malaysia – discarded by those living in Singapore, a two-hour drive away.

Inside five of these old refrigerators lie a tracking device each, planted as part of Channel NewsAsia documentary The Trash Trail’s investigation into what happens to electronic waste discarded by Singaporean households (premiere Monday, Jan 30, at 7.30pm).

It turns out that in the town of Rengit, used fridges from Singapore are in hot demand.

Madam Julizah, who goes by one name and runs one of these businesses, said that she received five to six used refrigerators in a week.

“There are no forms. We buy them from an agent who produces an approval letter for us, before we bring (the refrigerators) in,” she said. “If we can fix them, we will fix them. If we cannot, we will dump them.”

For generations, families in Rengit have made a living out of fixing and selling second-hand household appliances that make their way across Malaysian borders, according to one of the sellers.

But while these businesses seem to be giving old household appliances a new lease of life, are they legitimate – or are they doing more harm than good?

US-based Basel Action Network (BAN), whose mission is to stop e-waste dumping, does not think so. Its founder Jim Puckett said that the facilities were not “environmentally sound” after he was shown photos of the second-hand household appliance shops in Rengit.

“They’re what we call the informal sector, and can create tremendous environmental problems, especially if the scale of what we’re talking about is significant,” said Mr Puckett.

“This is a problem of dumping, and it has to be dealt with immediately by the authorities of both countries.”

Many waste collectors in Singapore themselves do not safely extract toxic refrigerant gases, allowing these gases - such as Freon - to escape and potentially do harm to health and the environment. (Read the earlier article here.)


To investigate what happens to Singapore’s e-waste, The Trash Trail worked with BAN to install trackers on 30 old fridges. Various movers, who were unaware of the experiment, were then contacted to take the fridges away.

In most cases, the refrigerators were found to have been dismantled and stripped of recyclable materials before being sent to incinerators here in Singapore.

But five fridges were traced one week later, via GPS tracking, to the same place – Rengit in Johor.

Malaysia’s Department of Environment’s guidelines consider household appliances older than three years as e-waste, even if they can be repaired, and are not allowed to be imported into the country.

Singapore’s National Environment Agency (NEA) told Trash Trail that only used appliances meant for re-use or repair can be exported, and not those meant for disposal.

The reality? When producers visited the shop where Madam Julizah sent her appliances to be repaired, the skeletal remnants of electrical parts and damaged appliances were found dumped outside.

The repair shop’s owner, Mr Asghar Khan, said: “We will repair where we can, and if we can’t, we send them to be scrapped.”


The NEA said it is currently conducting a study to develop options for an e-waste management system.

Meanwhile, people can donate their old refrigerators and other household appliances to the Heartland E-waste Recycling Programme, which was piloted in 2013 and is now in its second phase.

Even so, programme initiator Panasonic Asia-Pacific, which is one of the largest manufacturers of electrical appliances, believes that more can be done to promote e-waste recycling and form an industry for it, especially at the government level.

Panasonic’s spokesperson Low Beng Huat said: “I think building up an industry for home appliance recycling is something that a producer cannot be doing.”

When asked about the challenges faced in e-waste recycling, Mr Low said: “We really need to have a good recycler partner to help us recycle home appliances. But based on my understanding, at the moment, there isn’t a company who is willing to do this, or has the capability to do this in Singapore.”

The Trash Trail premieres on Monday, Jan 30, at 7.30pm (SG/HK) with two back-to-back episodes exposing the environmental truth behind discarded refrigerators and disposable cups.

The series is part of the CNA Signatures belt showcasing innovative programmes.

- CNA/yv

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Malaysia flood update: Evacuee numbers dip slightly in three worst-affected states

HIDIR REDUAN AND BERNAMA New Straits Times 31 Jan 17;

KUANTAN: Pahang – the state worst-affected by nationwide floods – has seen further improvement as of 9am this morning, with the number of evacuees currently at 4,122 people from 1,115 families at 65 relief centres.

This is in comparison to 8pm last night, when there were 4,344 evacuees from 1,154 families at 69 relief centres.

Pahang Civil Defence Force (APM) director Colonel Zainal Yusoff confirmed the latest tally, adding that Temerloh is still the district with the highest number of evacuees at 1,423 people from 363 families.

Other districts still dealing with flood victims include Pekan, with 1,116 evacuees from 309 families, Maran (1,055), Bera (490) and Rompin (38).

According to Bernama, things are also looking up in JOHOR, with the number of victims in the state down to 1,390 as of 8am today, compared to 1,473 victims at 8pm last night.

Chairman of the State Committee on Health and Environment, Datuk Ayub Rahmat, said the evacuees comprise 384 families who are staying at 22 temporary relief centres in the districts of Segamat, Tangkak and Muar.

He said that 53 relief centres out of the 70 in Segamat, and 14 out of the 15 in Tangkap have been closed.

However, 982 victims from 264 families in Segamat and 25 victims from six families in Tangkak have yet to be allowed to return home.

"In Muar, there are 383 victims from 114 families who are still at four relief centres," he said in a statement today.

Meanwhile, five major roads in the state are still inaccessible, namely Jalan Pogoh-Tekam and Jalan Balai Badang-Mensudut Lama in Segamat; Jambatan Jalan Kampung Sungai Pinggan in Pontian; and Kilometer 61 of Jalan Muar-Labis and Jalan Pagoh Tekam in Muar.

Bernama reports that things are status quo in Perak, where the number of flood evacuees as of 8am today remains at 407, the same count from last night.

According to the Welfare Department's Flood Portal, there are 182 victims in Hilir Perak, with 97 of them staying at the Sekolah Kebangsaan (SK) Sungai Kerawai, while 85 are taking shelter at SK Changkat Jong Batu 8.

Meanwhile, in the Manjung district, 208 victims are staying at Sekolah Agama Rakyat Padang Serai.

In the district of Larut, Matang and Selama, the number of victims staying at the Surau Padang Serai Dalam relief centre remains at 21.

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Indonesia: 16 landslides hit Gorontalo

Syamsul Huda M.Suhari The Jakarta Post 31 Jan 17;

Heavy rains poured down in Gorontalo province for a whole week last week, causing landslides in 16 spots in Bone Bolango regency on Monday.

The landslides began to hit Monday morning along the trans-Sulawesi highway, with the worst seen in the Olele, Oluhuta and Tolotio villages of Bone Bolango regency. “Some 50 kilometers of the road was covered in mud. But no casualties were reported,” said Gorontalo Disaster Mitigation Agency’s head of the logistics and emergency department Tahir Laendeng.

Bone Raya district head Mesalina Saputra said the landslide had destroyed the kitchen section of a house in Olele village. “Not far from there is a mining activity,” Mesalina said.

On Jan. 27, some 500 houses in seven districts in North Gorontalo regency were inundated due to long-lasting rains.

The Meteorology, Climatology and Geophysics Agency has issued warnings that rains are expected to hit Gorontalo province until Feb. 1.

Rail services disrupted as floods hits Pasuruan
Antara 31 Jan 17;

Jember, E Java (ANTARA News) - Floods hit Pasuruan District, East Java, on Tuesday, disrupting the Mutiara Timur train connecting the Banyuwangi-Surabaya route and the Probowangi train serving the Surabaya-Banyuwangi route.

The Mutiara Timur train was halted at the Pasuruan station, while the Probowangi train at Bangil station, according to Luqman Arif, spokesman of the state-owned railway company PT Kereta Api Indonesia.

Floodwaters, reaching a height of around 20 centimeters, inundated areas between Pasuruan and Bangil.

The arrival of the Mutiara Timur train was delayed by some three hours, and Probowangi, by 77 minutes, due to the flooding.

The railway tracks, which were submerged, at the Bangil and Pasuruan stations are now passable, but the speed was restricted to five kilometers per hour.(*)

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