KL incinerator plan upsets residents

KL incinerator plan upsets residents
Malaysia plans to build a big incinerator at the rubbish dump site (above) in Jinjang. The planned incinerator can burn 1,000 tonnes of solid waste a day.

Kuala Lumpur - For more than 20 years, Jinjang district in northern Kuala Lumpur was the main dumping ground for the city's rubbish, until the dump closed six years ago.

Today, the landfill is covered with shrubs and trees and housing estates creep ever closer despite the lingering stench of garbage.

"Imagine having to live near this every day," said Mr Tan Seng Giaw, who has been MP for 31 years for the Kepong constituency, where Jinjang is located.

The respite - as much as it is one - is likely to be short.

The government recently announced a plan to extend Jinjang's history with garbage, with a plan to build Malaysia's first big incinerator - costing between RM600 million (S$234 million) and RM800 million - that can burn 1,000 tonnes of garbage a day.

It is one of three large incinerators to help Malaysia dispose of part of the 33,000 tonnes of solid waste thrown out each day - of which 3,300 tonnes comes from Greater Kuala Lumpur, as the districts of KL and south Selangor are called. The other two are planned for Batu Pahat in Johor and Sungai Udang, Malacca.

How the Najib administration handles the construction of a large incinerator near an urban centre will be closely watched as Malaysia's 296 landfills cannot continue to take in the growing rubbish, expanding at 3.4 per cent each year.

Most residents of Kepong, which has a total of 360,000 people, are naturally unhappy.

"They should build it at a more remote place. How safe would this be?" asked Mr Kelvin Quek, an insurance salesman outside Brem Mall in Kepong.

Several residents said they were concerned the incinerator may emit poisonous fumes such as cancer-causing dioxins. Others worry about Malaysia's spotty reputation for construction and maintenance of big facilities.

Today, the capital city's rubbish is still sent to Jinjang to be compacted by machines at a transfer station before being loaded on bigger trucks to be sent 50km north to a landfill in Bukit Tagar.

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