Singapore Considers Building Eco-Park on Landfill

Singapore's National Environment Agency (NEA) is looking into the feasibility of developing an eco-park on Semakau Island, a landfill, said Dr. Yaacob Ibrahim, minister for the Environment and Water Resources in a recent press release.

"With this, we can create opportunities for research and development, as well as the application of clean technologies," he said.

Located about 8 kilometers south of mainland Singapore, the Semakau landfill is a unique off-shore facility created entirely from the sea space between two formerly adjacent islands.

NEA's Chief Executive Officer Lee Yuen Hee said that the agency has appointed two companies RSP Architects and Jurong Consultants to study how to transform a quarter of the island — some 90 hectares — into an eco-park.

Lee said, "The eco-park will help Singapore gain a competitive edge in driving the development of the critically important clean and green technologies. If implemented, the Semakau eco-park will become the center for the test bedding of renewable and clean technologies such as wind, solar, tidal power, fuel cell, desalination, renewable clean fuel, etc in Singapore. The park will also house eco-friendly recreational and educational facilities powered by renewable energy. We envisage that the test-bedding systems would be able to generate enough energy and water to make Semakau a self-sustaining eco island.

The NEA is expected to make a decision on the building of the eco-park on Semakau landfill by the 1st quarter of 2009.

With an area of 350 hectares, Semakau is the world's first offshore landfill created entirely from the sea space at a cost of $610 million (Singapore dollars). Semakau Landfill has been in operation since April 1999 and underscores Singapore's commitment to strike a balance between urban development and nature conservation. With a capacity of 63 million cubic meters, it is expected to meet Singapore's need for landfill space beyond 2040.

Operated and maintained by NEA, Semakau landfill receives about 1,400 tons of incineration ash and 600 tons of non-incinerable wastes every day. The landfill operation will eventually create an island made almost entirely of trash when the landfill capacity is exhausted.

The landfill has been constructed with prudence and innovative engineering solutions to contain all wastes within the landfill area. A perimeter bund, lined with impermeable membrane, marine clay, and rock layers, keeps the surrounding waters pollution-free. In July 2005, Semakau landfill was open to members of public for recreational activities. Since then, the island has gained popularity with nature lovers for its rich biodiversity.

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