Archive for the ‘Waste management’ Category

Questions for MwtE to answer

May 22, 2007
I have several questions for both Mazlan and Siti Fatimah of MwtE to answer… 1. On the ‘privately-sourced’ fund provider: Who are these fund providers? How do they get back their investment plus profits? 

2. How much the local munacipality has to pay MwtE for every ton of garbage they sent to the plant?

3. How much dioxins and other toxic gases would be emitted from the plant everyday? How about the ashes left behind and what would be the proportion of ashes versus solid waste (in percentage)?

4.MwtE claims that the energy produced by the company would be given ‘FREE’ to TNB. Why should the energy be given free to TNB when the taxpayers have to pay for the garbage burnt at the plant through the local municipality/municipalities?

Both Mazlan and Siti Fatimah have painted a ‘too good to be true’ picture without giving any proof. This is not good enough. And the Ministers in charge of environment and local government (Azmi and Ong Kata Nothing)were still keeping mum on the project as if they have nothing to do with it. So is Ali Rustam, the chief minister of Melaka.

‘Plenty to gain’ from energy plant

Fauwaz Abdul Aziz
May 22, 07 4:53pm
Savings all round – this is what the proponent of a waste-to-energy plant is holding out as an incentive to proceed with the project that has run foul of environmental activists. Melaka Waste to Energy Sdn Bhd’s (MwtE) executive chairperson Mazlan Ali spelt it out in further detail:
• Taxpayers do not have to bear the construction cost of RM612 million, which will be privately sourced;
• There will be savings of RM60 million annually in government subsidies; and
• The plant will supply national utility company Tenaga Nasional Bhd (TNB) 35MW of energy free of charge.
This contrasts with the energy from Independent Power Producers (IPPs) – who source their fuel from national oil company Petronas at highly subsidised rates – and eventually sell the output to TNB. Mazlan said 35MW of such fossil fuel-generated energy supplied by IPPs cost taxpayers RM58 million in subsidies.“With this plant, there are no subsidies at all to inflate the price of the same amount of energy supplied to TNB,” said Mazlan in an interview at the MWtE office in Kuala Lumpur.

The plant proposed in Sungai Udang, Malacca, is touted to converted waste to energy, using ‘plasma arc’ technology.

MwtE and its partner Green Energy and Technology Sdn Bhd plan to convert 1,200-1,500 tonnes of municipal, commercial and industrial waste in Malacca daily into 45MW, from which 10MW will be channelled back to the plant for its energy needs.

With the plant requiring RM82,000 for daily operations in treating and converting to energy 1,000 tonnes of waste, Mazlan conceded that the facility would be significantly more expensive than landfills.

“But that’s only in the short term. What about the long term? What about the social costs of landfills?” he asked.

“Think of how much millions of ringgit are being spent to tackle waste leaches into the land and water sources, the cleaning up of rivers polluted by legal and illegal landfills, and so on.”

Furthermore, he said, the MwtE plant is expected to last 25 years without any major change or replacement of technology parts. With maintenance, its lifespan can stretch to 40 to 50 years.

Trading ‘carbon credits’

Aside from the supply of energy to TNB, MWtE will also earn revenue from ‘tipping fees’ imposed on local authorities for the transportation of waste to its facility and its sale of the molten glass-like ‘slag’ that it recycles from inorganic materials in waste.

According to MWtE managing director Siti Fatimah Mohd Shariff, the company will also earn revenue from the sale of ‘carbon credits’ to such international buyers as Japan Carbon Finance, one of the largest such buyers worldwide.

(The Kyoto Protocol on climate change allows companies, among others, to trade ‘carbon credits’ derived from activities accredited as absorbing carbon dioxide – thereby reducing greenhouse gas emissions that cause global warming.

(Those generating pollution may ‘buy’ credits to offset the impact of emissions from their activities, indirectly paying for an environmental clean-up and ultimately meeting targets set by the Protocol.)

“MwtE has been recognised in that our waste-treatment and conversion-to-energy process is equivalent to getting rid of 106,000 cars per year, or planting 1.65 million trees per annum,” said Fatimah.

Environmental and social activists have claimed that the Malacca government is courting potential environmental disaster in backing the project, which still awaits approval from the Department of Environment. 

Barely having breathed a sigh of relief after the mega-incinerator proposal in Kampung Broga, Selangor, was aborted, they have demanded proof – not promises – of environmental safety and cost-efficiency. 


RM612 million plasma arc plant not environmentally safe

May 9, 2007
‘Proof, not promises’ sought over energy plant
Fauwaz Abdul Aziz
May 9, 07 4:40pm

Barely having breathed a sigh of relief after the Broga mega-incinerator proposal was aborted, activists believe they are up against another potential environmental disaster in the waste-to-energy facility planned in Sungai Udang, Malacca.

In the wake of a report that a RM612 million plant has been proposed by Melaka Waste to Energy Sdn Bhd (MwtE), they have demanded proof – not promises – of environmental safety and cost-efficiency. 

“The technology provider for the Broga incinerator had made similar claims. They could not substantiate their claims when challenged,” said DAP’s non-governmental organisations bureau chief Ronnie Liu in reference to Japanese engineering firm Ebara Corp.

“Why should we believe MWtE?”

Liu was among activists involved in the four-year campaign against the massive incinerator planned for Kampung Broga in Semenyih, Selangor. Although said to have been scrapped, residents are awaiting the government’s formal announcement. 

MWtE and its partner Green Energy and Technology Sdn Bhd (GET) have claimed that their state-of-the-art ‘plasma arc’ technology is 100 percent environmentally safe

It said that – unlike ‘conventional’ incinerators – the plant will not release toxins and carcinogenic secondary products such as furans and dioxins or hazardous ashes.

Liu, however, said no one can claim ‘zero’ emission of toxic gases.

“The company has to prove this to us instead of assuring us with so-called facts and figures from the technology provider,” he added.

Claims challenged

Backing him, US-based Greenaction for Health and Environmental Justice executive director Bradley Angel challenged MWtE to show a similar facility or model that has not emitted pollutants into the air, land or water.

“My research and understanding of the technology has proven without a doubt that the claims of ‘no pollution’ simply cannot be accurate. Every plasma and gasification plant that has emissions data shows toxic emissions, often contradicting the public relations claims of the companies that they have no pollution,” said Bradley in an e-mail interview.

“It is impossible to completely destroy and eliminate all waste being fed into a plasma arc facility without pollution, unless you are a skilled magician, which no one is.”

Based on GET’s own concept paper, the MWtE facility admittedly does release ‘exhaust gases’ into the atmosphere, pointed out Bradley who claims 21 years’ experience in organising on the issue.

“You cannot claim you have a completely closed system AND admit there are exhaust gases and these are ‘released to the environment’. It is one or the other, not both. Clearly by their admission there is burning, combustion and releases to the environment,” he said.

Citing Greenaction’s experience with a plasma arc technology company in the US, Bradley said Integrated Environmental Technologies’ president Jeffrey Surma had in a public hearing18 months ago admitted that its claims of having a ‘closed-loop system’ and of being pollution-free were untrue.

“Greenaction challenges (MWtE) to prove that they can do what no other company anywhere has been able to do: destroy waste with no emissions. We guarantee that if properly tested the proposed facility would have some level of toxic pollutants,” said Bradley.

He also questioned claims that the MWtE facility would produce sufficient electrical energy for sale to local utility companies, third-party users and to run on its own generated energy.

Citing a meeting late last month with Ebara plant managers at the Nagareyama facility in Chiba prefecture, Japan, Bradley said his research has shown that companies using similar technologies are not self sufficient.

“Ebara had made the same claims in its advertisements, whereas they admitted (in the meeting) that they import electricity and use large amounts of kerosene to power their allegedly self-sufficient plant,” he said.

The Consumers’ Association of Penang (CAP), meanwhile, said it is alarmed to learn of proposal to build the plasma arc incineration facility in Malacca.

“CAP is saddened to note that, despite the lack of public support for incineration technologies as was demonstrated by the…Broga project, the government has decided not to heed the sentiments of its citizenry,”said its president SM Mohamed Idris in a statement.

“CAP urges the public particularly, residents of Malacca and the state government to fully scrutinise and reconsider this extremely costly and polluting project which will clearly be a threat to public health and safety and reject it.

“Investment into waste management technologies that are safe, clean, green and generate renewable energy is the way forward to a more sustainable environment while protecting public health.”