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ICEL

Indonesia, Facing a Waste Crisis, Plans to Burn It for Electricity

  • The Indonesian government has targeted four cities in Java island to build incineration facilities this year to tackle the country’s plastic waste crisis.
  • Environmentalists say burning waste to generate electricity is not a sustainable solution to the issue, and will only add more problems, including the emission of toxic gases.
  • They instead suggest tackling the problem at the source, by reducing the amount of waste produced in the first place.
  • Indonesia is the world’s second-biggest source of the plastic trash that ends up in the oceans, after China.

JAKARTA — The Indonesian government plans to burn waste to fuel power plants in four cities on the island of Java this year as part of efforts to tackle the country’s plastic waste crisis.

Indonesia is the second-biggest contributor, after China, to the plastic waste that end up in the oceans, and is among a growing number of Asian countries refusing to import waste from developed countries.

President Joko Widodo called for a solution to the waste problem during a July 16 cabinet meeting, and criticized the lack of updates on plans to build waste incinerators.

“To this day, I haven’t heard any progress on which ones are already online and which ones are already built,” he said in a statement issued by the government.

“This isn’t about the electricity. We want to resolve the trash issue; the electricity comes afterward,” he added.

Cabinet Secretary Pramono Anung said that 12 cities had proposed building waste-fueled power plants, but only Jakarta, Surabaya, Bekasi and Solo were ready to do so before the end of this year.

Read moreIndonesia, Facing a Waste Crisis, Plans to Burn It for Electricity

On an Island in the Sun, Coal Power is King Over Abundant Solar

Balinese fishermen from Celukan Bawang village stage a protest against the coal plant for pollution and job loss. Image courtesy of Greenpeace.

 

  • Locals and environmentalists have opposed a plan to expand a coal-fired power plan in northern Bali, Indonesia.
  • They are worried that the expansion will exacerbate the existing impact of the plant on the environment and locals’ health and livelihoods.
  •  A particular concern focuses on the survival of dolphins and endemic species living in close proximity to the plant, with Greenpeace saying the dolphins have particularly been affected since the plant came on line in 2015.
  • Another major worry is air pollution, with many locals complaining of respiratory ailments as a result of the fumes and coal dust emitted from the plant.

 

JAKARTA — Dolphins haven’t had it easy in Bali, a resort island in Indonesia that’s massively popular with tourists.

They’re often held captive in chlorinated pools for traveling circuses; a report alleges that dolphins at one such outfit had their teeth filed down or removed altogether to prevent bite injuries to swimmers.

But the biggest challenge they face is one that threatens their habitat and that could potentially drive them away from the island’s waters. That challenge comes in the form of a massive coal-fired power plant in the sleepy fishing village of Celukan Bawang, on Bali’s north coast. The plant lies west of the popular Lovina Beach, a prime spot for dolphin-watching boat tours.

But the tour operators could soon be out of business, if the grim scenario painted by a Greenpeace report plays out. Since the plant began operating in 2015, the environmental watchdog says, it has dumped coal waste residue on the land and in the sea, wreaking havoc on the local ecosystem. The steady traffic of coal barges supplying the plant have also damaged coral reefs and driven away fish.

The impact has been far-reaching, the report says, with local fishermen forced to sail further out to sea because of declining catches in their traditional fishing areas closer to shore.

In hot water

 

Didit Haryo, a climate and energy campaigner at Greenpeace Indonesia, says dolphins are among the animals most affected by the power plant.

The plant is just 20 kilometers (12 miles) from Lovina Beach, and as such lies easily within the typical dolphin roaming range of around 40 kilometers.

“In the past, locals in Celukan Bawang said there were still many dolphins passing by,” Didit told Mongabay. “But they say they rarely see dolphins nowadays.”

There are several ways in which the plant is potentially impacting the local dolphin population, says Putu Liza Kusuma Mustika, a marine mammal expert at the University of Queensland in Australia.

Read moreOn an Island in the Sun, Coal Power is King Over Abundant Solar