Not in my back­yard

The Star Malaysia - Star2 - - ENVIRONMENT -

FOR years, trash has been tipped over hill slopes at Cameron High­lands, mar­ring the mon­tane land­scape and foul­ing up streams. Now, a waste in­cin­er­a­tor has been built to deal with the waste. But not ev­ery­one wel­comes the plant lo­cated on the ex­ist­ing dump in Kam­pung Raja.

They fear the health and en­vi­ron­men­tal ef­fects, as well as the project cost. Some say in­for­ma­tion on the project was not forth­com­ing.

“There was only one brief­ing for res­i­dents some­time in 2008. We had asked for more de­tails then but no news came, and sud­denly the plant was be­ing built,” says Ra­makr­ish­nan Ra­masamy, pres­i­dent of lo­cal NGO, Reach.

Suresh Ku­mar, branch sec­re­tary of Parti Sosialis Malaysia, says res­i­dents were only told of the pos­i­tive ef­fects of the in­cin­er­a­tor – that there would be no smells and no pol­lut­ing dump – but not of the risks of foul emis­sions. He says any pos­si­ble pol­lu­tion from the in­cin­er­a­tor is es­pe­cially of con­cern in Cameron High­lands be­cause of the large farm­ing ar­eas.

Our lam­en­ta­ble track record in op­er­at­ing and main­tain­ing trash in­cin­er­a­tors fur­ther fu­els anti-in­cin­er­a­tor sen­ti­ments.

“In­cin­er­a­tors built pre­vi­ously were all aban­doned due to the high cost of run­ning them. They also had EIAs (En­vi­ron­men­tal Im­pact As­sess­ment) then and still ended up as white ele­phants,” says Suresh.

A re­cy­cling scheme started by Reach three years ago has ex­panded to in­clude five col­lec­tion cen­tres. Other ven­dors are also pick­ing up re­cy­clables. Hence, Ra­masamy fore­sees a de­cline in trash vol­umes, which will ul­ti­mately af­fect the run­ning of the in­cin­er­a­tor. He says the Agri­cul­tural Depart­ment is also en­cour­ag­ing farm­ers to com­post green waste.

“If all this (re­cy­cling and com­post­ing) have been given a chance and don’t work, then we can con­sider in­cin­er­a­tion. In­cin­er­a­tors should be the last choice,” says Ra­masamy.

An open dump in Cameron High­lands. In­cin­er­a­tors are deemed the best op­tion for is­lands and high­land ar­eas where land is scarce and ship­ping the waste to proper land­fills would be costly.

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