Friday, October 16, 2015

Suggestions: Colombo Garbage to Wilpattu.

Perth, Australia. The materials used for land reclamation,
included general household rubbish.
Opposing or being critical of a project should be accompanied by alternative suggestions.

Obviously I am critical of Garbage of Colombo shipped to a Landfill in the Wilpattu Buffer zone or for that matter to any interior part of the Sri Lanka.  This is simply because the large amount of toxic chemical leachate (7 bowser loads, every day for at least 20 years) is trapped in an enclosed environment. (See Colombo Garbage to Wilpattu and Update: Colombo Garbage to Wilpattu)

In the case of the Wilpattu Buffer zone site, the leachate is trapped in the Kala-Oya/Lunu-Ela Estuary Complex and the Puttalam Lagoon.  Tidal currents are clockwise (Coriolis force) in the Northern hemisphere.  That means all the toxic chemicals are going to flow toward Puttalam town, and the longer the water stays (residence time), more of the chemicals will settle on to the bottom.  These will then eaten by various organisms (shrimp etc) and end up in the bigger fish (food chain).  The worst case is that all the chemicals use up all the oxygen (eutrophication) in the south end of the Lagoon.  Then all fish will die, the lagoon covered with algae and a stink to high heaven (think Bolgoda in Colombo).

Any landfill site in the interior of Sri Lanka will similarly trap the leachate in groundwater sources for years in the future.

So what are my suggestions.
  • Use the garbage to create Landfill for the proposed Colombo Port City

    I am well aware that the leachate is going into the ocean. However, it is a much better choice than the leach contaminating and getting concentrated in closed environments such as Kala-Oya-Puttalam Lagoon system or groundwater in the interior of the country. 

    JFK and La-Guardia Airports in NYC were built using garbage as Landfill. However, they are an environmental disaster a) because wetlands were filled up b) as the leachate continues to seep into enclosed water bodies.  In the case of JFK Airport into Jamaica Bay and La-Guardia into Western Long Island Sound.

    Japan and the Netherlands and Perth Australia, seem to have better results, i.e. lesser concentration of leachate because the land reclamation has been bordering in open ocean. Also see Land Reclamation for more examples.
  • Create blocks of garbage and cement to create artificial reefs and sea -walls where erosion is an issue.
    Charitha Pattiarachi
    of Uni of Western Australia created an artificial reef for surfing at Cable Station near Perth (I like the "In her study, Pattiaratchi", presumably because of the Charitha.  Pattiaratchi is 6 foot plus, Royal College swimmer and was a bouncer in a London Night Club, while a university student).  

    Imagine that, a surfing spot off Colombo Port City.

  • Use waste plastic and burned garbage to create plastic lumber.

    See Waste Reduction and Management Institute at School of Marine and Atmospheric Sciences at Stony Brook University for recycled plastic lumber and construction material comprised of municipal solid waste combustor ash and concrete.  They have been doing this since 1987.

American Prairie and Amazon Forest: Man Made ?

A very interesting theory from an article in 2002.  American Prairie and Amazon forest have been shaped by humans over thousands of years, and are not pristine environments as previously thought.  The Native Americans burned the Prairie Grasses to create a habitat ideal for bison, elk and deer; i.e. a gigantic farm for meat.  In the Amazon Forest, Amazonians created large tracts of very fertile super soil (Terra Preta wiki) in an infertile area.

The initial evidence for Prairie burning was as follows.
  • de Soto's travels thru South East US in 1539 did not see bison.
  • Archaeology of settlements shows very little bison/elk bones 
  • Disease brought in by Soto and crowd (and pigs) kills off the Native Americans.
  • 100 years later French explorers in the South East US saw no traces of man instead huge herds of bison
  • Conclusion: Native Americans kept bison population down. After Native Americans died of European diseases the bison numbers exploded.
Anyway excerpts article.
Every tomato in Italy, every potato in Ireland, and every hot pepper in Thailand came from this hemisphere. Worldwide, more than half the crops grown today were initially developed in the Americas.

The Aztec capital of Tenochtitlán dazzled Hernán Cortés in 1519; it was bigger than Paris, Europe's greatest metropolis. The Spaniards gawped like hayseeds at the wide streets, ornately carved buildings, and markets bright with goods from hundreds of miles away. They had never before seen a city with botanical gardens, for the excellent reason that none existed in Europe. The same novelty attended the force of a thousand men that kept the crowded streets immaculate. (Streets that weren't ankle-deep in sewage! The conquistadors had never heard of such a thing.)

The Hurons, a chagrined missionary reported, thought the French possessed "little intelligence in comparison to themselves." Europeans, Indians said, were physically weak, sexually untrustworthy, atrociously ugly, and just plain dirty. (Spaniards, who seldom if ever bathed, were amazed by the Aztec desire for personal cleanliness.)
Rather than domesticating animals for meat, Indians retooled whole ecosystems to grow bumper crops of elk, deer, and bison. The first white settlers in Ohio found forests as open as English parks—they could drive carriages through the woods.

In North America, Indian torches had their biggest impact on the Midwestern prairie, much or most of which was created and maintained by fire. Millennia of exuberant burning shaped the plains into vast buffalo farms. When Indian societies disintegrated, forest invaded savannah in Wisconsin, Illinois, Kansas, Nebraska, and the Texas Hill Country.

Yet recently a growing number of researchers have come to believe that Indian societies had an enormous environmental impact on the jungle. Indeed, some anthropologists have called the Amazon forest itself a cultural artifact—that is, an artificial object.

In a widely cited article from 1989, William Balée, the Tulane anthropologist, cautiously estimated that about 12 percent of the nonflooded Amazon forest was of anthropogenic origin—directly or indirectly created by human beings. In some circles this is now seen as a conservative position. "I basically think it's all human-created," Clement told me in Brazil. He argues that Indians changed the assortment and density of species throughout the region.

Strange Forest Patches Littering The Amazon Point to Agriculture 10,000 Years Ago
Now, thanks to new analysis of the sediment found in some of these islands, researchers have unearthed signs that these spots were used to grow cassava (manioc) and squash a little over 10,000 years ago.
That's impressive, as this timing places them some 8,000 years earlier than scientists had previously found evidence for, indicating that the people who lived in this part of the world - the southwestern corner of the Amazon basin - got a head start on farming practices.


This is the Knox of N. America.  La relación of Álvar Núñez Cabeza de Vaca (1528-15386)

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Update: Colombo Garbage to Wilpattu

This is an update to some of the questions on Colombo Garbage to Wilpattu. The previous post pointed out that Colombo Garbage dumped in Gangewadiya would seriously degrade the beautiful Kala-Oya, kill pristine Mangroves in Wilpattu National Park and kill breeding and fish stocks in Puttalam Lagoon.

Now to answer some of questions I was asked.

First and foremost, if this a state of the art Garbage Recycling system
a) why are the Western countries not using the methodology
b) Why is the West/Developed world exporting Garbage to third world countries.

Who wants this Done
The Ministry of Defense and Urban Development.  This landfill/garbage dump site project was approved by the previous govt based on a paper submitted by President Mahinda Rajapakse in his capacity as Minister of Urban Development.
On a Sandbank right at the Kala-Oya mouth.
This is about 1 km from proposed Landfill site.
Would you swim on sandbank at Kelaniya River Mouth
The story is that former Def Secy Gotabhaya Rajapakse saw the large abandoned limestone quarry site while flying over the area and thought it was a good site to export Colombo's garbage.
How will it be Done
Basically garbage of  about a  3 floor building sent by train every day.  Thats 479 large tipper trucks per day or a tipper truck every 4 minutes, 24/7. The Garbage would be put into plastic lined pits and then concrete poured over (capping).  Seems a perfect solution.
Except for the detail.  There is expected to be toxic chemicals leak (leachate), an Olympic swimming pool amount every month (26,531.6 m3/yr)1.  Thats about 7 large bowsers toxic chemicals every day. of Oh! it could also be more if cracks in plastic liner and concrete occur, which is very likely because of dynamiting by Holcim 2.
Then there is also garbage and chemicals overflowing (storm water run off) during the North East Monsoon rainy season.
What are the consequences
Direct:  Loss of fish, clams, mussel breeding and stock in immediate vicinity and Puttalam Lagoon. The Kala-Oya/Lunu-Ela  becoming a foul smelling canal.  Loss of livelihood from fishing.
Indirect: Cancer, Leukemia for generations.  Loss of pristine Mangrove. No more tourism, kite surfing at Kala-Oya and Kalpitiya / Puttalam Lagoon.
On the Banks of the Kala-Oya/Lunu Oya estuary.
3 km from the proposed Garbage Dump/Landfill

The Sales Talk
About 20 villagers were taken to Colombo and shown videos of how plastic liner and concrete capping would create beautiful golf course like parks (e. g. Fresh Kills Park, Staten Island, NY).  The video show to the villagers was of South Korean origin.
Of course they forgot  to mention the Olympic Swimming pool size of toxic chemicals leaking / leachate every month.  Also the beautiful golf course landscape would be about 20 years down the line.  10 years while the garbage is dumped into the landfill, and then another 10 years for the covering soil to be landscaped.
The villagers are no fools.  Garbage is garbage, and how ever much lipstick you put on a pig it is still a pig (I like pigs).  A couple of Villagers asked me, "If this is such great idea, why isnt it being done in Colombo" (ඇයි ඔච්චර හොඳ අදහසක් නම් කොළඹම ඔක කරන්නෙ නැත්තෙ). 
Positives (sarcasm):
Small community of only about 1,000 adults in Gangewadiya and another 2,000 or so in Eluvamkulama who would be directly affected by pollution.  So a good possibility of bulldozing the project thru, despite opposition by a 3,000 or so individuals.
Excerpts from Environmental Impact Assesment (EIA)
The EIA has seemed to have disappeared from the Central Env Authority (CEA) website
1  that 18% of the precipitation becomes percolation. Peak PERC quantity is expected from the 3 cells of the landfill during the period of November. It is evident that the time taken for leachate production from a cell with a height of 40 m is .8 years at the rate of 26,531.6 m3/yr during

2  However, operation of the nearby potential quarry sites (i.e., the Eluwankulama Forest;) for limestone extraction by Holcim (Lanka) Ltd (for cement production) could pose a danger to the single composite liner. This is because higher PPVs due to the usage of detonators and charging drilled holes with ANFO and dynamite may rupture the HDPE liner and perhaps the soil-bentonite layer too, ultimately leading to groundwater contamination. (pg 9 EIA)

Therefore, the proposed biological treatment plant would become a failure resulting in intense pollution of the Lunu Oya especially during the drier spells (noting that rainfall is confined largely during the period of October-December to account for a significant flushing and dilution) when discharge is low due to high evapotranspiration