Radioactive Sea Dump


(The crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant, conveniently situated next to the Pacific Ocean is now using the same ocean as dumping ground. Image source: http://www.eternian.wordpress.com)

In case you had opted to your waste time and concentrate on the sleazy “alleged sex video of an opposition leader” over real issues facing the world, here is a quick recap of something that happened last few days:-

Workers at Japan’s quake-hit nuclear plant have begun dumping water with low levels of contamination into the sea to free up room to store more highly radioactive water leaking at the site.

About 11,500 tonnes of water will be released into the sea at the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant.

The water to be released into the sea contains some 100 times the legal limit of radiation – a relatively low level, says the BBC’s Roland Buerk in Tokyo.

“As it is not harmful to people’s health and as it is necessary to avert an even bigger danger, we decided it was inevitable,” said Hidehiko Nishiyama of Japan’s Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency (Nisa).

(Source)

And this:-

Tepco says the low-radioactive water it intends to deliberately release into the sea has iodine-131 levels that are about 100 times the legal limit.

But it stressed in a news conference on Monday that if people ate fish and seaweed caught near the plant every day for a year, their radiation exposure would still be just 0.6 millisieverts. Normal background radiation levels are on the order of 2 millisieverts per year.

Getting the mildly contaminated water off-site would permit the emergency staff to then start pumping out the turbine building and the much more radioactive liquid in its basement.

(Source)

An interesting statement – “that if people ate fish and seaweed caught near the plant every day for a year, their radiation exposure would still be just 0.6 millisieverts”. Did they tested this hypothesis on a real person or it is all about statistics & formulas or statement made on assumption that people are dumb?

The latest news from Japan is that they have managed to stop the nuclear leak and if we think that we have overcome the worse, this is rather unsettling:-

“The situation is not under control yet,” said Thomas Grieder, Asia analyst at forecasting firm IHS Global Insight.

“Tepco’s decision to displace the contaminated water into the ocean reflected the urgency of clearing the turbine buildings and trenches of radioactive water so as not to damage equipment needed for restoration of cooling systems.”

“It’s only going to get worse. They are going to be forced to make a tough decision soon.

What they are going to have to release is likely to be highly radioactive. The situation could politically be very ugly in a week,” said Murray Jennex at San Diego State University, who specialises in nuclear containment.

“To put the Fukushima nuclear catastrophe in perspective, Chernobyl involved a single operating reactor core,” said Kevin Kamps from Beyond Nuclear, a US radioactive waste watchdog.

“Fukushima Daiichi now involves three reactors in various stages of meltdown and containment breach, and multiple (spent fuel storage) pools at risk of fire,” said Kamps.

(Source)

11,500 million liters of low-radioactive water (as reported, equivalent size of 5 Olympic sized swimming pool) has been officially dumped into the Pacific Ocean and untold amount may have been leaked into the ocean since day one of tsunami.

(Fancy eating fish with 6 eyes? Dumping low radioactive water may not be harmful to humans in the short term but what about long term? Image source: http://www.edwardcheever.wordpress.com)

Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency says that the low-radioactive water is not harmful to people’s health but have long term effect of this has been studied? What about the effect on the marine life around the place where the low-radioactive water was dumped? Have we not learned anything from the Chernobyl disaster where the effect on health is still felt some 25 years after the disaster?

India took a more drastic action by banning on all food imports coming from Japan for 3 months or more. What about in Malaysia? I’m surprised we have not raised the alarm although sale of seafood in the local market have dropped drastically. Our Health Minister had said that “Malaysia is taking steps to ensure the imported food from Japan is not contaminated by the radiation leaked from the Japanese nuclear power plant” but did not disclose further details.

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Earth Hour 2011


(Please bear with BJ as he is going through the unusual slow blogging phase – the write up on his new speed machine remains half done, damn!)

(The idea is to create awareness – not only among the ordinary citizens of the world but also organizations and governments. Image source: http://www.hurting.wordpress.com)

Whilst the world is busy with the nuclear crisis in Japan (which remains serious), here’s an event that marks the need for cleaner and renewable source of energy in light of global climate change. Earth Hour 2011 will be held at 8:30 pm on Saturday 26th March 2011 – details here.

Please mark the date in your calendar and help to spread the awareness and the need to change positive action on global climate change.

And whilst we are on nuclear crisis in Japan, there was an interesting letter in theSun on why we should not go for nuclear power in Malaysia. In case you had missed it, here it is – it does make a compelling point why we should not have a nuclear plant on our own backyard:-

Why nuclear power is not for us

Radioactive waste
No country has been able to satisfactorily store its atomic waste which lasts for thousands of years. US and Canada each have more than 60,000 tonnes of spent uranium fuel stored on site. After spending US$9 billion (RM27.5 billion) on Yucca Mountain, the US still cannot decide whether to use it (it was designed for 70,000 tons and is on a volcanic structure).

It limits clean energy.
Every ringgit spent on nuclear is not available for green energy, energy conservation and energy efficiency. It is an inflexible, expensive, time constrained method of electricity generation and not as environmentally friendly as publicised. The reactors have a finite life span, are expensive to build and decommission, and have to be guarded around the clock.

It is not completely safe.
Safe nuclear power is a myth. The nuclear industry knows that the risk of major nuclear accident is real and requires a special law, the Nuclear Liability Act, to protect it financially from the liability of accidents.

Nuclear power plants are a terrorist or war targets.
Such plants are attractive to terrorists because of their importance to electricity supply, the consequences of radioactive releases and their symbolic character. Imagine the effects of a plane crashing on the stockpile of radioactive caskets or the plant or in the event of hostilities, being hit by a bomb or cruise missile.

Nuclear power plants are unreliable.
There is no guarantee that these power generators will be free from maintenance problems and history is full of stories of generators being shut down because of poor performance or safety concerns, such as happened in Ontario in 1997 when eight of the province’s 20 reactors went awry, turning to coal and gas generation when this happened. It ended up adding more CO2 to the atmosphere and billions of dollars to repair.

Nuclear power is a cause of nuclear arms proliferation.
If we value peace then we should consider this as a poor alternative to renewables. “In theory, reprocessing spent fuel and recycling it in fast breeder reactors reduces the quantity of uranium mined and leaves more of the waste in forms that remain radioactive for only a few centuries rather than many millennia. But in practice, it is problematic because it is expensive, reduces waste only marginally (unless an extremely costly and complex recycling infrastructure is built which will add US$1-2 billion to the cost), and increases the risk that the plutonium in the spent fuel will be used to make nuclear weapons,” says physicist Frank N von Hippel. In the US, three fast breeder reactors closed and Sellafield in UK was also closed temporarily while only the La Hague in France is still open and Rokkaso-Mura in Japan is under testing.

Radioactive emissions
There is a definite increase in radioactivity around nuclear power stations, with particulate pollutants such as tritium going into the air, soil and water and consequently into the food chain. This increases the risk of cancer, leukaemia and birth defects. The incidence of leukaemia among children of workers at Sellafield is twice the national average. Since 1990, 18 cases of leukaemia were reported in children around Kruemmel, one of Germany’s nuclear plants, which is three times the national average. At one conference, Gloria Hsu Kuang-Jun showed data that showed vicinity infant death rates and cancer rates decreasing substantially within two to seven years after nuclear plants closed down.

It is expensive.
Many nuclear plants undergo massive cost over-runs and delays, a burden to the general population in terms of debt and bills incurred for long-term management of radioactive waste. In Finland, a third generation reactor was supposed to be built from August 2005 to May 2009 but it is now scheduled to be ready by December 2011 with a massive 60% cost overrun on the €3.2 billion (RM13.8 billion) project.

Claims that nuclear energy is cheap are based on hidden assumptions. Huge subsidies are ignored such as research and development, enrichment of uranium, insurance liability, waste storage, and decommissioning. And since nuclear power has high capital costs and lower operating cost, its proponents choose unrealistically low interest/discount rate or accounting methods that shrink interest and capital repayments. In UK, there is a fossil fuel levy of up to £1.3 billion (RM6.5 billion) a year to “subsidise” nuclear power after electricity privatisation in 1990’s. Nuclear subsidies in the US already top US$100 billion.

Not the answer to climate change.
It is certainly not that carbon friendly. Moreover there is a long lead time to build and operate a plant, whereas a solar or wind power installation would need much less time. Even China can only plan to generate 6% of electricity by 2020 from nuclear which is currently 2.5%. But it plans to target renewable energy to 16% by the same year; simply because it is more feasible. Sunny Spain has about 30 solar thermal plants under construction and may have 8,000 megawatts installed by 2020. Malaysia is the third largest producer of solar cells, has abundant sunshine and puny solar installations.

It is not popular.
Nowhere in the world is the population enamoured by nuclear power because of cost overruns, government subsidies borne by the masses, poor performance, mounting stockpiles of waste, health problems with accidents, security concerns and others. Tenaga Nasional Bhd is considering building a Generation III/III+ Evolutionary Design reactor.

If Malaysians have to subsidise power generation let it be for solar/wind or other less dangerous methods.

Dr Thong Kok Wai
Malaysian Physicians for Social Responsibility

(Source: TheSun)

Interestingly, a couple days ago, there was another letter in theStar as to why we should go for nuclear power – I did not read in detail into it but similar arguments found in the letter was found here – in this WSJ’s 2008 post titled “The Case For and Against Nuclear Power”.

The counter arguments were:-

The argument for nuclear power can be stated pretty simply: We have no choice.

If the world intends to address the threat of global warming and still satisfy its growing appetite for electricity, it needs an ambitious expansion of nuclear power.

Scientists agree that greenhouse gases, mainly carbon dioxide, are building up in the atmosphere and contributing to a gradual increase in global average temperatures. At the same time, making electricity accounts for about a third of U.S. greenhouse emissions, mostly from burning fossil fuels to produce power.

Nuclear power plants, on the other hand, emit virtually no carbon dioxide — and no sulfur or mercury either. Even when taking into account “full life-cycle emissions” — including mining of uranium, shipping fuel, constructing plants and managing waste — nuclear’s carbon-dioxide discharges are comparable to the full life-cycle emissions of wind and hydropower and less than solar power.

And on the issues raised by most anti-nuclear power lobbyists:-

So, what’s the case against nuclear power? It boils down to two things: economics and safety.

One reason it’s so expensive at this point is that no new plant has been started in the U.S. since the last one to begin construction in 1977. Lenders — uncertain how long any new plant would take because of political and regulatory delays — are wary of financing the first new ones. So financing costs are unusually high. As we build more, the timing will be more predictable, and financing costs will no doubt come down as lenders become more comfortable

The next generation of plants is designed to be even safer, using fewer pumps and piping and relying more on gravity to move water for cooling the hot nuclear core. This means fewer possible places where equipment failure could cause a serious accident.

And even if a serious accident does occur, U.S. plants are designed to make sure that no radiation is released into the environment. Reactors are contained inside a huge structure of reinforced concrete with walls that are as much as four feet thick; the Chernobyl reactor lacked such a structure.

Yes, there are plenty of arguments for and against nuclear power and until we will be able to harness enough juice to power the world economies, nuclear plant may be the way of the future.

(Science fiction or something we have yet to put our thoughts and resources in?  The technology that drives huge starships across many galaxies in the Star Trek world. may mean something when it comes to new energy source. Image source here)

In my one of my favorite series, Star Trek, the starships uses the warp drive which is a faster-than-light (FTL) propulsion system. Here’s the interesting part of warp drive:-

A primary component of the warp drive method of propulsion in the Star Trek universe is the “gravimetric field displacement manifold,” more commonly referred to as a warp core.

It is a fictional reactor which taps the energy released in a matter-antimatter annihilation to provide the energy necessary to power a starship’s warp drive, allowing faster-than-light travel.

Starship warp cores generally also serve as power plants for other primary ship systems.

And despite it is being in the far future, nothing remains safe:-

If the containment fields ever fail, the subsequent interaction of the antimatter fuel with the container walls would result in a catastrophic release of energy, with the resultant explosion capable of utterly destroying the ship.

So, yes, in the far future, we do need another source of energy once the fossil fuel have depleted – after all, it is not renewable.  At  the end, we still need to look into renewable clean energy like solar (the good ones powers 85% of the energy need of offices and homes and there’s plenty of sunshine in Malaysia all time around) and wind or the dreadful nuclear plant. We will cross that road when the time comes to pick the available options.

But the call for nuclear plant in Malaysia has additional unique “Malaysian” factors that need to be considered – rather seriously by those in power.

1. Is there really need for more energy in Malaysia now? There always been a contention that we have an oversupply of power in Malaysia and we been paying too much to IPPs with heavy subsidies from the Government as well. What about the 12 hydro-dams planned in East Malaysia in 2008? Have we been focusing on creating the supply first before there is a real demand for it?

(The infamous roof collapse in Malaysia – what do we really lack to an extend a new roof can just collapse – serious attitude problem or rightful skill and expertise? Image source: TheStar)

2. The “tidak apa” culture of Malaysians – how many times we have heard of roof of newly constructed buildings falling down? Poor design, lack of enforcement, subcontracting to unknown cronies or to those bristling with poor and bad records, has been part and parcel of construction of key infrastructures in Malaysia.

3. Enforcement of strict laws and execution of punishments to those who have failed safety and building standards. I dread the thought of enforcement of strict safety standards of building a new nuclear plant in the hands of the local “majlis perbandaran”. Since the time we had the Highland Towers tragedy, news of landslides due to poor enforcement and monitoring keep cropping up.

Or on those developers who flout regulations and slapped with stop work orders, just how many of them have been booked for continuing with the development work until something dreadful happens?

4. Escalating cost of construction – this one no need to say lah – we are famous for mismanagement of public funds for many, many years now and I don’t think it is going to change a bit when we lay out the “initial costing” of constructing a nuclear plant. Actual construction cost is one thing – as usual, in Malaysia, this would soon be followed by issue of an undisclosed “commissions” to be paid out upfront, maintenance costs, training, the “sudden” increase of construction cost, etc to contend with. Of course, are we going to see it happen without open tender and in shroud of secrecy.

Constructing new nuclear plant costs anything between $3 – $7 billion and then there is a separate operating cost that covers security, safety, purchase of uranium fuel (about $59/lb), waste disposal management (costs between £67,000/m3 and £201,000/m3) and finally decommissioning the plant (it cost $300 million or more to shut down and decommission a plant). These of course exclude the cost of compensation and clean up should the unthinkable happen (all information sourced here).

For now, switching the light for an hour this 26th March 2011 is a good start. The tough choice that we need to do in the near future is to decide whether we really need nuclear power for our energy needs but also whether we have the right people, design, policies, laws, enforcement manpower and the funds in place before we take the giant leap.

After all, if the Japanese with all the know-how, technology, discipline and money is facing a bleak future with its nuclear reactors after the 2011 tsunami, what more of us in Malaysia? Truthfully, we are yet to reach the level necessary to construct and manage and nuclear plant in Malaysia.

One would just hope that the Government would not rush in the issue of having a nuclear plant in Malaysia and takes it’s time to get all things in place before it decides to have one.

It’s About Time, Right?


(Gosh, to be frank, lately I could not find the right time for the blog – we all have been too busy with work and with several deadlines looming over our heads, time seems to be running short)

(The protest that kicked Hosni Mubarak of Egypt from the helms of power. Other countries are facing similar protests too. Image source)

You have been reading about the trouble brewing in the Middle East – we really don’t care who will rule over who, because at the end of the day, it is all about the People’s Power but this is the part we are really interested on:-

The Government will maintain the current fuel price for RON95 at RM1.90 and diesel at RM1.80 despite the escalating global oil price, Domestic Trade, Cooperatives and Consumerism Minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob said.

It will instead discuss with the Finance Ministry about alternatives to cushion the increase, he said.

“The Government will retain current prices and look at other options or alternatives even if the Government’s load increases.

(Source)

And

As tensions escalate in the Arab world, oil prices have gone up, sparking global fears that the costs will be passed down to the people.

Fears over higher crude oil prices, hovering around US$101 yesterday as political unrest in North Africa and the Middle East heightened, have sent stock markets tumbling around the world.

(Source)

The bad news is that the worse is not yet over – Libya’s Col Gaddafi is set to provide a strong resistance and Saudi is yet to experience the same resistance that is troubling the other counties.

But let’s leave Middle East for a second, shall we?

One thing is sure – we are going to face crisis in the future and we are going to see the increase of the price of crude oil moreover when the supply is insufficient to meet the global demands and Malaysia run out of the high quality oil. The question that we will be facing then would be – how prepared we have been when this happens.

Are we looking into the alternative energy source in a more serious and concerted frame of mind? Will we see more incentives for highly fuel efficient or hybrid vehicles on the road? Unfortunately at the moment, there is no national regulation that dictates minimum fuel efficiency of the cars on the road. In recent years, there have been some incentives on hybrid cars by the Government but it is still not enough to see a wider use.

There is a greater use of NGV as compared to 5 years ago but the sale of NGV in this still controlled by Petronas and it is not offered in all of their petrol stations. Same goes to bio-fuel stations around the country.

It is also assuring that Proton is working on electric cars but on the overall, electricity is also generated mainly on coal and oil instead of alternative source of energy like solar and wind, so it is still bad for the environment. Heavy usage of electric cars means longer and heavier recycling load on the national grid. So, what about solar panels that can be installed by residents and who can contribute back to the national grid.

Improvement of public transportation has always been in the Government’s books but change does not come overnight. In June 2010, the Government proposed MRT for the city of KL and it is expected to take about 6 years for the project to be completed. (we have yet to come to the issue of cost yet).  The impact of the MRT on the traffic congestion and our dependent on the fossil fuel is yet to be determined.

We need to think of the alternatives right now, not when we are stuck in a fuel crisis when things go wrong in the Middle East.

Read Also

Recycling News

Alternate Energy in Malaysia

Recycling a Car


(When you think of Volvo, you will think Sweden, safety and luxury. Now you can add environment friendly to the  Volvo brand.Image source: http://magazine.volvotrucks.com)

The buzz word of the day is recycling and there is no major act from Malaysians to prioritize recycling in daily life.

It was interesting watching “Mega Breakdown” over at the Discovery Channel where a 2 man team breaks down a used Volvo truck and recycles 95% of the truck. What is more interesting is the fact that Volvo actually plans on what can be recycled at the very early stage – during the design stage – when they design a new truck for the market and they aim for 90% recycle rate (and they managed to prove that the 95% cycle rate can be achieved):-

Now, I took a step back and try to reflect the situation right here at home – Malaysia. Just how far we are when it comes to recycling of used vehicles. Our roads are already over choked with vehicles of all shapes and designs. And instead of limiting the cars on the road and improving on the public transports, we instead just extend the existing roads and create new ones. At the end, it only means more cars.

So, what we have done with those cars which had passed its working life? Let’s see – we have used car dealers, the “potong kereta” (half cut) shops and finally scrap metal dealers. These 3 industries do make some impact on how we are able to recycle back the old cars whenever we drop them aside when we opt for new car. But if it comes to high recycle rate, even with an active industries, it is not enough due to several restrictions:-

Used Car Dealers – just how many of us opt to buy used car these days as compared to new cars which is more fuel efficient, safer and bristling with new technology.

Just how many of the used Protons and Peroduas are lying under the sun and rain, rusting away in the many used car dealer’s yard? Too many, I say. So, recycling by means of selling the car to someone else is not a viable option (the model of the car also plays a major role – used BMW or Mercedes Benz for the right price is a heaven sent deal).

Half-cut Shops – they can be a blessing in disguise when we need to replace faulty or damaged parts. for an cheaper but safer alternatives

Whilst it is true that parts purchased from these half-cut shops are not brand new and may conceal hidden damages, it is still better option for those who cannot afford to buy brand new parts from the authorised dealers. For those who want to modify their local assembled cars with higher quality parts from Japan for a reasonable price, half-cut shops is the place to go. Then again, the problem with half-cut shops is this – there is no way to gauge the quality of the parts purchased from them.

Despite some of these parts are original or from a higher quality brand, there is no way to tell when these parts will subsequently fail. And a failed part is not only dangerous but your insurance claim may be deemed null and void as the parts did not come from authorized dealers.

Scrap Metal Dealers – they play an important role when it comes to recycling. Just about anything that can be recycled – old newspapers, old batteries, glass bottles, tin cans, metals, etc, they are the one to go to.

Since we only sells to these dealers, there is no danger of getting faulty parts (although the money earned from selling to scrap metal dealers is chicken feed). The problem however is dismantling. We cannot just drive a car up to the dealer and ask him to dismantle it himself. Firstly, it will be difficult to gauge how to pay for the parts and secondly if dealer do not have the expertise, dismantling is going to be one messy work and may not be environment friendly too (just imagine them throwing away a bucket load of used engine oil into the drain) .

That leaves us to relook at how Volvo does it.

To facilitate recycling, Volvo Trucks produced a dismantling manual back in the mid-1990s. At the design stage, Volvo Trucks already takes account of what is going to happen the day the truck is taken off the road.

The parts in good condition become spare parts; others are recycled or are turned into new energy. To make dismantling effective, the parts have to be easy to remove. All the cables and wiring, for example, are held together with 2,000 plastic clips to make them easy to dismantle.

All the materials are selected with recycling in mind. Using dyed plastic rather than painted plastic is just one of the many details.

(Source: Volvo Trucks)

And Volvo even comes up with a list of items that can be re-used or recycled and that makes it easier (for them and recycling centers) to recycle its trucks and this includes the following:-

Batteries
Around 60 per cent is lead and it is melted down and used to produce new batteries. Some 30 per cent is sulphuric acid, which is neutralized to produce water. The remainder is plastic, which is turned into energy. Good batteries can be re-manufactured and sold.

Brake discs
Can be recycled via smelting.

Bulbs
All the components are recycled after being taken apart.

Cooling media
The gas R134a (HFC) can be re-used after cleaning, if it is not contaminated by oil. R134a which is contaminated by oil can be incinerated and turned into energy.

Electronics
The metal is recycled, while the energy is recovered from the plastic.

Engine
The metal is melted down and turned into new engines. Engines in good condition can be re-manufactured.

Glass
Can be fully recycled through smelting.

Glycol
Can be re-used if the quality is high. Otherwise, it is neutralized and turned into water by adding bacteria.

Metal
Iron, steel, aluminum, copper and bronze are materials with a high value. They are recycled to a level of almost 100 per cent via smelting.

Oil and oil filters
High-quality oil can be re-used. Contaminated oil can be used as energy in the cement industry, for example. Oil filters can be recycled to a level of 90 per cent. They are centrifuged to separate the oil, which is recycled through purification. The metal and plastic are melted down or are turned into energy.

Silencers
Old silencers are melted down. Silencers from Euro 4 and onwards contain a ceramic substrate and an active element, in addition to metal. The metal is recycled; while the ceramic substrate is melted down, thus enabling the metal it contains to be recovered. The active element is also recycled via smelting.

Textiles
Incinerated and turned into energy.

Tyres and rubber
Tyres can be reconditioned, turned into blasting mats or road cones or sent for energy recovery in the cement industry. Rubber of other kinds, such as hoses and gaskets, is turned into energy.

Re-use = sold as spare parts or re-manufactured and sold with a warranty
Recycling = melted down or cleaned to be turned into new products
Energy recovery = incineration that results in energy for smelting plants, the cement industry or district heating. Dangerous substances are neutralized with chemical additives and treatment

(Source: Volvo Trucks)

So, whilst the used car dealers, half-cut shops and scrap metal dealers are doing their part to “recycle” the old cars in the country, it is certainly not enough to “clear away” the old cars for upcoming newer models. Of course, the more viable thing to do is to improve on our public transportation system and get more people to use the public transport than cars. But we will still be faced with disposed old cars.

So, as how Volvo been working on recycling of its trucks since the mid 1990s, will the local car assemblers namely Proton and Perodua look into active recycling of its cars? After all, if they are able to recycle the parts of the old cars, it can be re-used in their newer cars. Cost of the recycling may take some good calculations and profitability may be slim. But what is more important is that we would able to recycle the old cars and preserves our environment.

Further, with active participation of the car manufacturers themselves, the secondary recycling industry may just get the boost they need to invest for more recycling centers, technology and increased rate of recycle.  So, instead of focusing on designing electric and hybrid cars, let’s focus on recycling of the older cars first.

New Found Care?


I guess to portray a bad image on someone; you can try to make as much noise as possible and hope that the real facts gets drown in the noise…

(What is the real mission of “Misi Tawan Selangor”? Want to wrestle back the state for the good of the people in Selangor or to continue the nonsense that happened before the last general election? Image source: here)

Selangor BN been quite sore ever since they lost one of the “wealthiest” State in Malaysia, so this piece of news was not a big surprise:-

Selangor Barisan Nasional Youth will send a memorandum to the Sultan of Selangor, Sultan Sharafuddin Idris Shah, on Thursday on the sand and water issues in the state.

State Barisan deputy chairman Datuk Seri Noh Omar said the memorandum to be sent to Istana Kayangan here, would appeal to the Sultan to advise the Selangor government not to risk the state’s future merely for its own political interest.

Another 17 ceramah will be held until Aug 8 as part of the ‘Save Selangor” roadshow which will also raise issues such as the alleged lies by PKR advisor Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim, sand mining controversy involving Kumpulan Semesta Sdn Bhd and the alleged crisis in the Pakatan Rakyat state government.

(Source)

I never trusted Noh Omar and his justifications to bring Selangor back to BN’s control. At the end of the day, it is nothing but politics. I am part of Selangor and I just want to ask this Noh Omar one simple question – “What Selangor Pakatan Rakyat have done that is worse than the time Selangor was led by Khir Toyo?”

Let us trace our steps back for a moment.

Illegal sand mining?

Well, that problem had been a pain in the neck even before PR took over the state. So, what’s the big deal? At least the PR State Government is pressured by the own people to work on this (I did not hear the same when Khir was at the pilot’s seat). BN only came in later – perhaps exhausted of new ideas to go against PR in Selangor.

And talking about BN making a lot of noise on sand mining, here is a disturbing news from the net:-

There apparently is more than meets the eye in Barisan Nasional’s attacks on the Selangor government over the sand-mining issue.

There may be large reserves of tin underneath the sand and BN does not want them discovered while Selangor is under Pakatan Rakyat’s rule, according to a memorandum submitted to the state government by the Sand Mining Operators and Contractors Action Committee, which represents sand-related businesses registered with the state-owned Kumpulan Semesta Sdn Bhd.

The memorandum, signed by the committee’s chairman, Raja Kamaruddin Raja Abdul Wahid, urged the state not to give in to BN’s demands.

(Source)

It may just be the case of sand contractors trying to protect their source of income but then again, what if what they are saying is true? Whatever the reason may be, eliminating illegal sand mining activities in the State is not an easy matter.

What remains to be seen is how effective the PR led State Government is in managing the sand mining in the state and coming down hard on illegal miners.

Water issue in Selangor?

No water issue during Khir Toyo’s time? Are you sure, Noh? Still recall Bukit Cerakah? Is it due to blatant development of water catchment areas during the BN’s time that the State may face a water crisis now?

And it is not like the PR State Government is not aware of the potential water crisis:-

Khalid insisted that there would be sufficient water supply to meet the demands of Selangor and Kuala Lumpur consumers up to the year 2019, based on expert consultations and their calculations of population growth rate, past and present water consumption rates, current production capacity, and water levels in the dams.

He also cautioned against pushing through a large, lucrative contract like the Pahang-Selangor water transfer, saying that it that would incur further national debt, and recommended instead that the project be implemented in 2016.

Khalid had also suggested four alternatives to meet growing water demands instead of the costly Pahang-Selangor water transfer project.

He called for an increased promotion of water recycling, including rainwater harvesting; the exploration of alternative sources of water, such as water from rivers and lakes; and underground water technologies.

Khalid also cited the need to reduce the current high non-revenue water (NRW) rate from 35 per cent to below 20 per cent, and to improve the inter-connectivity of water supply by ensuring a more efficient water transfer from the northern to the southern region of Selangor.

(Source)

Is the transfer of water from Pahang the only option available for Selangor? Any Plan B in the pocket? What happens if Pahang also faces a water crisis in the future (PR claims that Pahang plan is not a viable solution & there is a conflict of interest) – so where that leaves Selangor?

PR Government is right to push on alternatives for now – they should implement the alternatives and see the impact. They should strive for long term plan on the water resources in the State.

There seems to be a concerted effort by BN to portray PR as being very reckless with management of water. But are they? If you still recall, in 2009 there was a proposal from the State Government to take over the various water operators in the State but guess who went and sabotaged it?

Read Nut Graph’s “Who caused Selangor’s Water Woes?” for the twist.

Final Say

PR State Government is not perfect; I have to admit that – they have their faults especially when it comes to getting all the 3 component political parties to work together and agree on the policies and directions. Finger pointing and dissatisfaction by the PR politicians among each other in the open can be a serious “pain in the neck” for those voted them in.

But at least, they are more accountable than the previous Government. The State’s Select Committee on Competency, Accountability and Transparency have done a fine job unearthing abuses of power and funds by both BN & PR and that should keep everyone on their toes.

And finally, at least under PR, I don’t see the current MB going off to Disneyland with his family and his maids using the state’s funds or seeing any PR assemblymen building palaces and show their middle finger to the authorities at the same time. At least some of the nonsense has stopped.

Read Also

Letter by Tony Pua on the issue

Largest Oil Spill


Photo caption: A May 17, 2010 satellite image provided by NASA shows a large patch of oil visible near the site of the Deepwater oil spill, and a long ribbon of oil stretched far to the southeast. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said Wednesday that a small portion of the slick had entered the so-called loop current, a stream of fast moving water that circulates around the Gulf before bending around Florida and up the Atlantic coast. (AP Photo/NASA). (Image source and more photos here)

In case, you been busy with other matters

BP’s COO Doug Suttles has announced that operation Top Kill, a plan involving the pumping of heavy mud, concrete, and junk into its gushing oil well 5,000 feet deep in the Gulf of Mexico, has failed.

The next step, the New York Times reports, is a “lower marine riser package cap,” in which workers plan to saw off the riser and put a device on top to capture the oil. So far, the leak has resulted in the largest oil spill in U.S. history.

Experts say anywhere from 504,000 to 4.2 million gallons a day are escaping from the well that ruptured after Transocean’s Deepwater Horizon platform (leased by BP) exploded on April 20.

Recently, scientists have discovered that a massive amount of the oil has not risen to the surface and could be lurking 1,000 feet or more under the surface of the gulf. One plume is an estimated 22 miles long. PBS has a running estimate, based on several evaluations of the flow rate (BP has not acknowledged a definitive figure).

(Source: Fast Company)

504,000 to 4.2 million gallons a day or estimated 180 million gallon leaked todate or 681 million litres (1 gallon = 3.78541178 liters). That is enough to cover a full tank for 17 million cars (rough estimate).

Meanwhile, we are having same problem over here:-

The Department of Environment estimates that 16km of shoreline have been polluted by the oil spill from the collision of two vessels in the Singapore Strait.

DOE director-general Datuk Rosnani Ibarahim said clean-up efforts were in progress and over 18,911 litres of oil had been collected so far.

(Source: TheStar)

More oil spill means shortage of supply to end consumers and that is seriously affect the oil price.

Earth Hour: KL not dark enough


(Switching off the lights is a symbolic act to show that we care for the environment. Image source: http://www.greenroofs.com)

It looks like many Malaysians are also still in the “dark” when it comes to the environment and efforts being taken on the conservation

From theStar:-

SATURDAY night was the second time Malaysia participated in the Earth Hour programme. Generally however, Kuala Lumpur was a letdown because the city was still bright. What happened on Saturday might be due to the lack of promotion by the organiser, the WWF.

Meantime, Bernama reported this:-

Tenaga Nasional Bhd (TNB) recorded only a small drop in demand during Earth Hour Saturday night, with a load reduction of 203 megawatt (MW), as compared to 550MW registered during the same energy conservation campaign last year.

High power consumption during the current hot weather might have contributed to the lower reduction in energy consumption during this year’s Earth Hour, it said in a statement Sunday.

You know what? I have to agree – this year’s Earth Hour was a big turn down compared to the last year’s Earth Hour. Considering that this is not the first time we are participating in the “event”, we should have knocked off more megawatts. And I don’t agree that it was attributed to the current hot weather. We just asked them to switch off the light, not the air-conditioners, although, switching them off as well would have been great.

It is also true that there was not enough promotions to get more people participate (last year was better). At least, some people in my neighbourhood including yours truly participated and promptly switched off their lights for the event.

And in light of Earth Hour, let me share a story that my buddy, Alex told me last year after we had participated in 2009’s Earth Hour.

Alex said that in his neighbourhood, the hype of the Earth Hour has been overwhelming so much that his neighbours have been well ready for the event. Some opted out for camping on the outside. Some opted to just stand out and see the lights go out for an hour. And when the time came to switch off the light, all lights went off. All except for one, that is.

The most of the lights in the house was shining brightly. And immediately that attracted the attention of the neighbours who participated in the event. A small commotion started and to the neighbours’ surprise, even one stray dog got into the act by barking at this house which has lights on. The neighbour who had the lights on was alone in the house. His wife and his daughter were out shopping.

So when they returned, they were surprised to see the commotion and the daughter who knew about Earth Hour, rushed in and within seconds, the lights in the house went off. Strangely the stray dog which was barking suddenly stopped barking and went off on its business.

The neighbour, who had the lights on, sheepishly walked out and realised that all the nights in the neighbourhood were off too. He remarked that he was not aware that there is an event called Earth Hour and the meaning of the event until he was “briefed” by his daughter.

The success of the event called Earth Hour is solely depends on people’s awareness and continued promotion of the event. And to ensure that Earth Hour does not end up as “one hour in a day”, “a day in a year” event – the organisers need to tie it with continued promotion and environment issues so that one can capitalise on the event.

And as every year, more people are made aware of the issues facing the country and the world on environmental issues; we can expect some small change in attitude on how people are going to take care of the environment.

Read Also

Earth Hour 2009

Alternate Energy in Malaysia