Palau Task Force Delivers Report On Landfill Solutions

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One site for Koror, all Babeldaob states among recommendations

By Aurea Gerundio-Dizon

KOROR, Palau (Island Times, Feb. 6, 2014) – The Landfill Task Force has come up with recommendations for a national solution to handle Palau’s solid waste.

In August of 2013, President Remengesau formed the Landfill Task Force to find solution about solid waste problem before the M-Dock landfill overflows and cause irreparable damage to the environment. The landfill at M-Dock has already reached capacity and is threatening to overflow.

The task force is chaired by Min. Charles Obichang of the Ministry of Public Infrastructure, Industries and Commerce, with President’s Special Assistant Fritz Koshiba as vice chairman and Capital Improvement Office Manager Brian Melairei and all governors of 16 states as members.

In a report submitted to the Office of the President on February 4, endorsed by all 16 governors, the task force concluded that it is feasible to have only one landfill to serve all of Koror and 10 Babeldaob states and separate landfills (new or improve existing landfills) in Peleliu, Angaur, Kayangel and Southwest Island States to serve their own solid waste management needs.

The report states that from the operations and maintenance perspective, having the least number of landfills for the Republic is ideal. However, having one landfill for the entire country may not be feasible due to the location of outlying states.

The report disclosed that Aimeliik State and Ngiwal State governors have expressed interests of opening up landfills in their states serving Koror and Babeldaob.

In fact, the Aimeliik State Legislature passed a resolution urging the governor to initiate discussions with the national government regarding the possibility of developing the proposed site in Aimeliik named Ongerarekieu to service as a national landfill.

The Ongerarekieu site is described as a rolling hill mostly covered with grass vegetation. It has a usable area of about 9 acres (over 36,000 square meters). It is located approximately a quarter of a mile from the Compact road but is not visible from the said road.

According to Gov. Leilani Reklai, her state has already completed cursory Environmental Assessment of the proposed site.

Ngirameketii, on behalf of Ngiwal State, indicated commitment of his state to host new landfill, in recognition of the sacrifices of his neighboring states of Ngchesar and Melekeok to the needs of the national government and states. However, no site has been identified yet in Ngiwal.

Following the recommendation to have one landfill for Koror and Babeldaob and separate landfills for outlying states, the task force further recommended for a survey of M-Dock landfill. The survey is to look into the available holding capacity of M-Dock at present time and the rate of waste coming to the landfill at a given time.

The task force believes that with these data, the useful life of M-Dock can be estimated. The estimate is reportedly necessary as it dictates the amount of time left to plan, develop and open a new landfill.

It is recommended that Bureau of Public Works embarks on a basic design study for a Semi Aerobic type of landfill or what is called the Fukuoka method.

The task force also recommended that the national government operate and maintain the landfill since the Bureau of Public Works SWM Office has the knowledge, skills and pre-requisite training on the Fukuoka Style Landfill System and can properly and sustainably manage the landfill.

In terms of collection, it is recommended that the waste collection for Babeldaob be contracted out to the private sector. This collection contact(s) will solely concentrate on residential waste. All commercial and state government waste must be brought to the landfill by the respective waste generating entities.

The task force recommended that tipping fees by weight shall be assessed for commercial and government wastes. These fees shall help offset costs for collection contracts.

Since Koror State already has a functioning collection system being operated by the state government, it is recommended that this practice continues to serve Koror.

The task force recommended that collection schedules, tipping fee rates, and collection schemes and/or dividing collection areas into sections need to be worked out in detail. With an estimated waste per capita per day, the task force anticipates the volume of waste from residential communities in Babeldaob can be estimated as well. This data will reportedly assist the BPW in determining the most efficient way and frequency to collect wastes.

The task force also recommended that a full Environmental Impact Statement be acquired for the proposed site in Aimeliik, since only a cursory Environmental Assessment has been done on the site so far.

As to the state dumpsites, the task force recommended that these sites be closed once new national landfill is opened. Currently, except for Kayangel and the Southwest Islands, all states in the Republic have their own landfills. But the report disclosed that state dumpsites are ill managed and have become health and environmental hazards.

The task force said that if these state dumpsites do not close, it will create unwanted opportunities for commercial and government entities to dispose their wastes at these sites to avoid tipping fees.

The task force also recommended public education and awareness enhancement about solid waste management. It is further recommended that the national government’s Public Education Committee be dissolved, since the committee is reportedly experiencing non-participation of several of its members recently, and have the SWM Office of the national government hire one more coordinator and two more educators for purpose of public education and awareness programs to reduce waste generation at its source. The task force wants public awareness on the 3R program – reduce, reuse and recycle.

The task force lastly recommended the exploration of clean technologies that President Remengesau also pushed when he issued the executive order that established the task force.

The report disclosed that Koror State has taken the initiative on a pilot project to produce oil from soft plastic waste such as plastic bags, plastic beverage caps, Clorox containers, etc. During test run of the program, 1 kilogram amount of plastics yielded 1 liter of oil. From this oil product, biodiesel and kerosene can be produced according to Koror State SWM office.

The task force has also discussed another clean technology that is called Cool Plasma Gasification. According to the report, this technology is quite different than incineration. In the incineration process, the task force explains that oxygen is a required element. The wastes are combusted or burned which means flue gas emissions would be unavoidable. In gasification, this technology does not need oxygen. As result, gasification has no emission but a by-product in the form of a synthetic gas that can be processed into may fuel types.

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