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Waste-fired power plants draw fire for turning one form of pollution into others

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By Ifham Nizam

Asolid waste-fired thermal power station is currently under construction at Muthurajawela by the Urban Development Authority. It is expected to use about 630 MT of waste from Colombo and Gampaha suburbs to generate 10MW a day.

Another such plant is under construction in Karadiyana, which will receive 500MT of municipal solid waste a day from the Western Province Waste Management Authority (WPWMA). Most of the plastic waste will be burned at these two plants in the near future, The Island learns.

The public is however unaware that both plants will emit toxic fumes harmful to all living beings especially as a result of both of them burning plastic waste.

Sri Lankans dispose 5.1 kilos of waste each daily and seven per cent of trash is plastic, an ongoing survey by the Centre for Environmental Studies (CEJ) has revealed.

CEJ scientists say there is no proper strategy to tackle the problem of waste plastic. They say burning is not a solution. “It only turns one form of pollution into others, including air emissions, toxic ash and wastewater,” said CEJ Executive Director Hemantha Withanage.

Burning waste is a health as well as an environment hazard. Even the most advanced technologies cannot avoid the release of vast amounts of pollutants that contaminate air, soil and water, and end up entering the food chain.

Mercury, dioxins, lead, and other pollutants come from burning waste. Plastic and metals are the major source of the calorific value of the waste. The combustion of plastics, like polyvinyl chloride (PVC) gives rise to these highly toxic pollutants, he says.

According to CEJ, the National Environmental (Prohibition of open burning of refuse and other combustible matters inclusive of plastics) Regulations No. 1 of 2017 orders No person shall burn openly or cause to, allow or permit the open burning of refuse or other combustible matters inclusive of plastics and any person who fails to comply with the regulations above shall be liable to an offence and punishable under Section 31 of the National Environmental Act, No. 47 of 1980.

It is time to implement this law for the sake of our future generation to come, say environmentalists.

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Covid-19 vaccination programme: MPs not in priority group; President, armed forces chiefs in ‘third category’ 

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By Shamindra Ferdinando

State Minister for Primary Health Care, Epidemics and COVID Disease Control, Dr. Sudarshini Fernandopulle yesterday (25) said that members of Parliament were not among those categorised as priority groups expected to be vaccinated against the Covid-19 pandemic.

Dr. Fernandopulle said so in response to The Island query whether parliamentarians would receive the vaccine scheduled to be delivered by India this week. Asked to explain, Dr. Fernandopulle said that health workers, armed forces and law enforcement personnel engaged in Covid-19 prevention operations would be given priority.

“Lawmakers haven’t been listed under priority groups. However, some members may get the vaccine if they are accommodated in the over 60 years category and those suffering from diabetes, heart disease, cancer et al,” the State minister said.

In addition to State Minister Dayasiri Jayasekera, several lawmakers, representing both the government and the Opposition had been afflicted over the past several weeks. SLPP lawmaker Wasantha Yapa Bandara (Kandy district) is the latest victim. Health minister Pavitradevi Wanniarachchi was among over half a dozen lawmakers tested positive.

Army Commander General Shavendra Silva told Derana yesterday morning Sri Lanka would receive approximately 500,000 to 600,000 doses from India. Responding to a spate of questions from Derana anchor Sanka Amarjith, Gen. Silva explained the measures taken by the government to ensure a smooth vaccination programme. The Army Chief who also functions as the Chief of Defence Staff revealed India had paid for the consignment obtained from the UK.

Later in the day, The Island sought an explanation from the Army Chief regarding the President, Service Commanders, Secretary Defence given the vaccination along with frontline health workers et al, the celebrated battlefield commander said: “Will be in third priority group.”

Asked whether the student population would be accommodated at an early stage of the vaccination programme, Dr. Fernandopulle said that those under 18 years of age, pregnant and lactating mothers wouldn’t be included at all as such groups hadn’t been subjected to trials. Education Secretary Prof. Kapila Perera wasn’t available for comment.

Dr. Fernandopulle emphasized the pivotal importance of following health guidelines strictly in spite of the launch of the vaccination programme. “We shouldn’t lower our guard under any circumstances,” Dr. Fernandopulle said, urging the population to be mindful of those unable to receive the vaccination due to no fault of theirs. As those under 18 years of age had been left out of the vaccination programme, a substantial section of the population would be denied the protection, the State Minister said.

Sri Lanka is also expected to procure vaccines from China and Russia in addition to the doses from India. Health Secretary Maj. Gen. Sanjeewa Munasinghe wasn’t available for comment.

Sri Lanka launches the vaccination programme with the total number of positive cases nearing 60,000 with nearly 50,000 recoveries. The government recently re-opened the Bandaranaike International Airport (BIA) following a pilot programme that brought over 1,200 Ukrainians in dozen flights through the Mattala International Airport.

Dr. Fernandopulle said that the government was ready to launch the vaccination programme as soon as the first consignment arrived from India.

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Tennis balls filled with drugs thrown into Kandakadu Covid-19 treatment centre

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By Norman Palihawadane

Two tennis balls filled with drugs had been thrown into the Covid-19 treatment centre at Kandakadu, Police Spokesperson DIG Ajith Rohana said.

The contraband was found on Saturday by the Army officers attached to the facility.

DIG Rohana said the two tennis balls containing cannabis, heroin and tobacco, had been handed over to the Welikanda Police.

A special investigation has been launched into the incident, the Police Spokesperson said. Such incidents had been previously reported from Welikada, Negombo and other prisons, but it was the first time contraband containing narcotics had been thrown into a Covid-19 treatment centre, he added.

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All cargo clearances at Colombo port now through electronic payments

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The Sri Lanka Ports Authority (SLPA) has introduced a system where payment for imports could be made via the Internet. This allows port users to make payments from their homes or offices to clear goods from the Port of Colombo.

The SLPA has said in a media statement that the new special facility will enable port users to make their port payments easily without hassle.

At present, all terminals of the Port of Colombo are run according to a strategic crisis management plan.

 

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