I figured that if I want to revive this blog, I might as well do it with a blast! And thus, the first post after such a long break will be the first field trip I have in this Academic Year. The BES class went to Pulau Semakau on 24th August 2013. It still remains my favourite island in Singapore.
|BES Class of 2017|
We had our first group photo ever as a class taken at the Pasir Panjang Ferry Terminal before we took the boat to Pulau Semakau. It was a great day with great weather. We then split into two groups and I had the group that get to watch the presentation first.
|Semakau Transfer Station|
After attending a presentation, we had a tour around the island. The first stop was the Semakau Transfer station where the barges of ashes will enter and park in while the ash and waste are being emptied.
|Tugboat with the codename of ENV 3|
These barges of ashes and waste are being pushed by these tugboats from the Tuas Marine Transfer Station to Pulau Semakau. Each barge has a capacity of 3,500 cubic metres.
|35-tonne off-road dump trucks|
These dump trucks carry the incinerated ashes and waste to the tipping sites and unload the solid waste into the active cell.
|Long-arm excavator and bulldozers|
The long-arm excavator is used to scoop the ashes and waste into the dump trucks. The bulldozers help to level and compact the solid waste at the tipping sites.
|Long-arm excavator at work with the dump truck in the transfer station|
The ashes will be transferred into the dump trucks or on the floor when there is no dump truck around. It takes approximately six hours for the long-arm excavator to empty each barge. We managed to take a whiff of what the ashes smells like and it just smells like something is burning.
|Barramundi Asia nursery and hatchery on Pulau Semakau|
|Offshore fish farms|
The world's first offshore Barramundi farm and hatchery is found on Pulau Semakau, just beside the Visitor Centre. It is owned by Barramundi Asia and it supplies about 350 tonnes of fish a year. The fries are raised on shore and when they weigh 10 grammes, they are vaccinated and moved to the floating cages or "kelongs" off Semakau near the Southern tip.
|Malayan Water Monitor Lizard (Varanus salvator)|
As we carry on to move, a cute creature caught my eye and I managed to shoot it before the bus drove off. The first life form (other than humans) that I see on the island. It is probably a Malayan Water Monitor Lizard (Varanus salvator).
There are fruit trees found on the island as the workers try to be self sufficient on the food aspect, at least for the fruits. They have mangoes!!!
|Grassland of Semakau which are cells that were already filled up|
As we traveled to the Southern tip of Pulau Semakau, we passed by the cells that were already filled and there were already a whole lot of plants growing on them. These plants are first brought in by wind when the cells are filled and a layer of top soil was added. They then attracted more birds and insects to the island, and this in turn bring about more seeds of other plants. Hence, the cells are now filled with different species of plants, creating an ecosystem with different organisms living it. This process is called nature succession.
We made a special stop at the entrance of the forest for intertidal walk as we are required to take a look at the wonderful shore that we have at Pulau Semakau. This coastal forest is part of the original Pulau Semakau and it remains pretty much untouched throughout the construction of the bund. As usual, the war with the mosquitoes starts all over again.
|Wonderful Shores of Pulau Semakau|
|These shores would be exposed during low tide and it has various interesting organisms living on it.|
After the grueling walk in the forest (not because of the terrain but the mosquitoes), we will be able to see the shores of Pulau Semakau. However, as we are the second group to arrive, the tide is high and we are unable to walk any further out to take a better look at the shores. However, we are still able to see some naturally growing mangroves while more information on Project Semakau were shared.
|Half the BES cohort group photo|
As usual, being the mean one, I forced my group to take a group photo on the wonderful shores of Pulau Semakau despite the billions of mosquitoes attacking them as they stopped moving for a split second.
|Roads of Pulau Semakau|
We then carry on our tour on the 7km rock bund to the Southern Tip of Pulau Semakau. One difference between the roads here and the roads on mainland is that there is currently no street lamps on them, hence, minimum light pollution and very ideal location for star gazing.
|Water pipes joining the cells to the open sea|
These pipes allow the sea water to flow freely into the cells that are not currently being used yet. This is important as it keeps the organisms living in the cells alive while the cells are not being used. It also helps to prevent the water inside from being stagnant as stagnant waters can breed mosquitoes and other water-borne diseases.
We soon reached the Southern most tip of Pulau Semakau. We are lucky enough to catch some action of the helicopters having some practices at the nearby islands of Pulau Sudong, Pulau Pawai and Pulau Senang. These islands are mainly used for military live-firing exercises.
|Electricity is generated by the wind turbine and solar panels at this small station|
Though this wind turbine and solar power station is small, it is able to generate enough power for the lights at the Southern most tip of Pulau Semakau. Hence, allowing people to have activities like barbeque in the night.
|Impermeable geomembrane (foreground) and Geofabric (background)|
These membranes help to ensure that the leachate or any forms of leaking do not happen and thus, keeping the sea waters around the island clean.
|Jatropha plants (Jatropha curcas)|
|Unripe fruits of Jatropha plants|
Currently, a project is exploring on the possibility to generate biofuel from these plants. The oil-rich seeds are viable sources of biofuel but more research is required before it can be used.
|Phase 2 lagoon and the monitoring well (the white pipe in the foreground)|
|TA Bee Yan briefing on the phase 2 lagoon|
We were then briefed on the developments of phase 2 lagoon and how the various organisms living in it will soon die off. This stress on the fact that we need to carry to practise our 3 R's so that this landfill can last as long as possible.
|"Ah who cares what she says" |
Just kidding :)
And we do not wish to listen to her. Nah. We just turned to take a look at the lagoon and the poor plants and organisms living in it that will soon be gone.
|Rare mangrove plant in the middle of the lagoon. All the organisms will soon be destroyed when the phase 2 begins|
|BES Class of 2017 at Pulau Semakau|
We then head back to the visitor centre and we got ready to move back to mainland Singapore. It was a good trip for all of us and I believe we have all learnt something from this trip and got a better idea on how waste is being treated in Singapore.
Despite the number of times I have been to this island, I never fail to learn, see and hear something new. However, many questions are left unanswered and will remain unanswered. What are the future developments of the island? Will the biodiversity of this island be conserved or destroyed to make way for development? What is the next step?
But one thing is for sure: We need to do something to reduce our waste.
Walking off,Rui Xiang