Activists warn of health, environmental problems if incinerator project continues

Kuala Lumpur Tak Nak Incinerator chairman Lee Chong Tek (third from left) with other KTI members today.

KUALA LUMPUR: An action committee today urged the Selangor government to review the incinerator project in Jeram, which is slated for completion in 2020, over its implications on public health and the environment.

The Kuala Lumpur Tak Nak Incinerator (KTI) action team, which represents other resident associations as well, said incinerators were unsustainable and had grave health implications for residents in the area.

They also asked if the Selangor government had produced a proper environmental impact assessment before awarding the contract for the plant.

“If they did, we didn’t see any effort to inform the public of its results,” KTI chairman Lee Chong Tek told reporters at a press conference here.

The group said the residents in Jeram were unaware of the project and its possible impact on their health and environment.

It also questioned whether the contact was awarded on an open tender basis.

It urged the state and federal governments to take more proactive measures to inform the public about the project.

“We have not seen any comprehensive public statements about the pros and cons beyond a simple announcement,” Lee said.

He added that besides the project in Jeram, there were other plans for incinerators at various locations across the country.

He said these plans, put forth as waste-to-energy (WTE) plants, were in conflict with the 3R (reduce, reuse, recycle) programme for which the group had been pushing since 2013.

He said the 3R programme, which received a small grant from the United Nations, would fail if incinerators were built in every state.

“When we met with Housing and Local Government Minister Zuraida Kamaruddin, she said the 3R programme would take a longer time, and that many people from the M20 and B40 groups would not take part.”

However, he said these programmes could reduce the amount of waste produced by Malaysians through education and awareness campaigns.

He claimed incinerators required a minimum waste consumption of 1,000 tonnes a day to break even with operational costs, which would further encourage the production of waste.

The group also questioned the amount of electrical energy which would be produced from the WTE plants.

“We are not sure if it is economical or workable,” Lee said.

It was reported yesterday that Worldwide Holdings Bhd and Western Power Clean Energy Sdn Bhd had been awarded the contract to build a WTE incinerator, the biggest and most modern in Kuala Selangor.

The project is expected to cost RM500 million and will be built on some six hectares of land near the Jeram sanitary landfill.

It will reportedly reduce the need for landfills while supporting the government’s goal to increase renewable energy output to 20% by 2025.

However, Lee claimed the incinerators would also be used for rubbish imported from overseas, saying even China had banned this practice.

“If this was good, why would it be banned? Malaysia has already imported waste from other countries, but it is reported that we only import from countries with highly segregated waste.

“But only 15% to 20% of segregated or recyclable waste actually gets recycled. Where does the rest go?”

KTI member Kevin Tan said the group hoped to gain the attention of Energy, Science, Technology, Environment and Climate Change Minister Yeo Bee Yin.

“We hope we can have a meeting with her because this concerns the environment, too,” he said.

“If incinerator projects are coming up one by one in densely populated areas, a lot of residents will face implications to their health.”