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.

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

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