No anomalies in Singapore's air and water quality, say authorities amid methane poisoning in Pasir Gudang

Channel NewsAsia 14 Mar 19;

SINGAPORE: No anomalies have been detected in Singapore's air and water quality, the authorities said on Thursday (Mar 14) after illegal toxic waste dumping in Pasir Gudang, Johor left hundreds of people ill.

In a joint statement, the National Environment Agency (NEA), Agri-Food & Veterinary Authority of Singapore (AVA), Singapore's water agency PUB and the Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF) said that they are closely monitoring the situation in Pasir Gudang.

​​​​​​​"We understand that the clean-up operation by the Malaysian authorities is in progress. The affected area is outside of the Johor River catchment, and there is no impact on Singapore’s water supply," said the statement.

"SCDF, NEA and PUB have not detected any anomalies in our local air and water quality. The Agri-Food & Veterinary Authority has been working with our farmers to monitor the situation and no anomalies or fish mortality have been observed at our fish farms."

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New S$20 million lab to develop less toxic e-waste recycling methods

Aqil Haziq Mahmud Channel NewsAsia 13 Mar 19;

SINGAPORE: A S$20-million research centre which aims to develop greener ways of recycling electrical and electronic waste (e-waste) was launched on Wednesday (Mar 13) by the Nanyang Technological University (NTU) and French Alternative Energies and Atomic Energy Commission (CEA).

The centre focusing solely on e-waste recycling is believed to be a world-first.

Among its goals: To extract substantially more valuable metals from lithium-ion batteries and to recycle silicon from solar panels.

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New heritage trail on Singapore's maritime history to be launched

Zhaki Abdullah Straits Times 13 Mar 19;

SINGAPORE - A new heritage trail on Singapore's maritime history will be launched later this month, said Senior Minister of State for Transport Janil Puthucheary on Wednesday (March 13).

He announced this at the inaugural World Congress on Maritime Heritage, which runs until Friday (March 15) at Resorts World Sentosa's Equarius Hotel.

Dr Janil noted that the congress - organised by the Consortium for International Maritime Heritage - coincides with Singapore's bicentennial year even though Singapore's "long and rich maritime heritage" predates 1819 to as early as the 14th century.

The new Singapore Maritime Trail will offer participants "a glimpse into maritime trade and activities in the past, and how these have shaped Singapore's culture, language and identity", he said.

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Malaysia jails two Vietnamese nationals for illegal possession of tigers, leopards, and bears

TRAFFIC 13 Mar 19;

Petaling Jaya, Malaysia, 13th March 2019 – two Vietnamese nationals have been jailed and fined for illegal possession of several parts of threatened wildlife, including tiger, leopard, and Sun Bear parts, in two separate court cases in Malaysia this week.

Today, the Kuala Kangsar Sessions Court sentenced Tran Van Sang to a total of 19 years in prison on 10 charges under the Wildlife Conservation Act 2010, with Judge Rohaida Binti Ishak ordering these to run concurrently from the date of his arrest. The longest sentence for an individual charge was 30 months.

Tran was caught on the 26th August 2017 near an indigenous people’s settlement in the town of Sungai Siput in northern Peninsular Malaysia in possession of 273 wildlife parts. The parts included those of tiger Panthera tigris, leopard Panthera pardus, Clouded Leopard Neofelis nebulosa, Sun Bear Helarctos malayanus and Sambar Deer Cervus unicolor. All except the Sambar deer are classified as Totally Protected Species under national legislation.

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Malaysia: All schools in Pasir Gudang ordered to close immediately

Azura Abas New Straits Times 13 Mar 19;

PUTRAJAYA: The Education Ministry has decided to immediately close all 111 schools in the Pasir Gudang district until further notice.

Its minister Dr Maszlee Malek said the decision was made after getting input from the Johor Disaster Management Committee that had assessed the situation following the recent chemical waste dumping incident in Sungai Kim Kim.

The incident has so far led to 506 people, mostly students, being hospitalised after inhaling toxic fumes emanating from the waste.

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Indonesia: Baby orangutan dies of hunger after mother shot and badly injured

Apriadi Gunawan The Jakarta Post 13 Mar 19;

The Medan-based environmental organization Yayasan Ekosistem Lestari (Sustainable Ecosystem Foundation) in North Sumatra has said it will take care of the badly injured Sumatran orangutan whose baby recently died from malnutrition, allegedly after attacks by workers from a plantation near a protected forest in Aceh.

The foundation's veterinarian Yenny Saraswati, said her organization planned to take the 30-year-old orangutan to its Orangutan Haven, a project developed by the group along with the Sumatran Orangutan Conservation Programme (SOCP) and PanEco Foundation.

“The project will take care of those orangutans unable to be returned to the wild for whatever reason,” Yenni told The Jakarta Post on Wednesday.

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Indonesia NGO appeals ruling on China-funded dam in endangered orangutan habitat

Agustinus Beo Da Costa Reuters 13 Mar 19;

JAKARTA (Reuters) - Indonesia’s biggest non-government environmental group on Wednesday launched a fresh legal bid to stop the construction of a controversial China-funded dam that some experts warn will destroy the habitat of a unique species of orangutans.

The $1.5 billion hydro dam is being built by a Chinese-Indonesian consortium in the heart of the Batang Toru rainforest in Sumatra, which is home to the Tapanuli orangutans, a species of the endangered great apes that was only discovered in 2017.

The Indonesian Forum for the Environment (Walhi) has fought for months in court to stop construction of the dam led by Chinese state-owned company Sinohydro. The project is due to be finished by 2022 after being approved by the local government.

On March 4, the state administrative court in Medan dismissed a lawsuit claiming that the approval process had ignored the environmental significance of the site and did not get input from residents.

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