Singapore opens latest phase of landfill project

Singapore’s National Environment Agency (NEA) has held the official opening of Phase II Semakau Landfill.

Phase II of the complex provides an additional 17 million cubic metres of landfill capacity to meet Singapore’s waste disposal needs until at least 2035. It was built with the aim of balancing development of a much-needed waste disposal facility with environmental conservation.

The island landfill site is located 8 km south of Singapore. Originally commissioned in April 1999, NEA created the Semakau Landfill space by building a 7 km perimeter rock bund to enclose part of the sea off Pulau Semakau and Pulau Sakeng. The bund is lined with an impermeable membrane and a layer of marine clay to contain leachate from the refuse within the landfill area.

Based on current usage and projected amount of waste generated in Singapore, Phase I’s landfill cells were expected to be filled by 2016. To address the country’s waste disposal needs, in 2011 NEA embarked on the Phase II development to convert the remaining 157-hectare sea space into landfill space.

The construction team achieved this by closing the 160-metre gap at the southern perimeter bund of the site. This created a single cell to form Phase II of the landfill, which was designed to maximise the landfill capacity and minimise the amount of sand required, thus lowering the overall construction cost.

At the same time, to protect Semakau Island’s vibrant ecosystem and rich biodiversity, NEA embarked on two major projects to preserve the marine life in the Phase II development area. Over 700 colonies of corals in the Phase II lagoon were harvested and transplanted to Sisters’ Island. Since June 2015, NEA has also been working with nature groups to catch the fish within the Phase II lagoon and transfer them to the open sea.

The NEA sees the Semakau Landfill site as unique because it is a popular attraction for educational and nature tours. The facility was created to co-exist with the marine eco-system and habitats, and offers activities including bird watching, an intertidal walk and fishing.

The Singapore Minister of the Environment and Water Resources, Dr Vivian Balakrishnan, was guest of honour at the opening event on 11 July. He said: “The expansion of Semakau Landfill is testament to Singapore’s engineering capability and the success of its novel approach to waste management. While it is necessary to meet the waste disposal needs of Singapore, our priority has always been to ensure that it is done in an environmentally sustainable way.”

NEA Chief Executive Ronnie Tay added: “Semakau Landfill is an excellent success story showcasing how sustainable waste management can co-exist with thriving marine life and habitats. While we have built the capacity to meet Singapore’s future waste disposal needs, I would like to encourage all of us to actively reduce the amount of waste we generate and recycle as much as possible, so as to prolong the lifespan of our only landfill.”

The NEA website has more information on the Phase II Semakau Landfill project.

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