Saturday, August 11, 2012

Where debris from construction sites goes

Straits Times: Sat, Aug 11

SINGAPORE'S construction workers dug up enough soil, clay and rubble last year to fill 3,400 Olympic-sized swimming pools, it emerged yesterday.

And in a resource-scarce nation, as little of it as possible is wasted.

Instead, a portion of the roughly 8.5 million cu m of debris - gathered from works including underground expressways and basement carparks - was used for projects such as land reclamation, said National Development Minister Khaw Boon Wan.

"In most countries, excavated material is dumped on land," he wrote on his blog. "This takes up precious space and is also unsightly."

Depending on the location of the site and the technique used to excavate, two main types of debris are dug up. One, which is classified as good earth, can be recycled immediately by the construction industry. The other, known as soft clay, has to be treated before being reused, for example in land reclamation.

"Lorries transport these excavated materials from construction sites to staging grounds at our coast," said Mr Khaw.

"There, they are loaded onto barges, which move them to our various land reclamation sites for use as fill material."

A National Development Ministry spokesman said almost 50 per cent of the debris collected - or 3.9 million cu m - was sent to Pulau Tekong for land reclamation.

On his Housing Matters blog, Mr Khaw also addressed recent problems relating to the Changi Staging Ground dumping site. Construction companies have complained of long waiting times - up to five hours - before they can discharge their loads.

Mr Khaw said the queues were caused by a large number of building projects - such as the Singapore Sports Hub and National Art Gallery - which began at the same time.

He added that efforts are being made to resolve the issue. They include extending operating hours, adding more weighbridges and a stockpile pit, and working with contractors to spread out their deliveries to off-peak hours.

Asked if such measures were adequate, Singapore Contractors Association president Ho Nyok Yong said: "The problem seems to be improving slightly but we are still getting many urgent complaints."

Sub-contractor Vincent Ong, who handles the waste dumping for HDB projects, said the queues mean he can make only about three trips a day to the Changi site, down from around eight last year. "As a result, I'm now telling my guys to go to other dumping sites," he said.

Martin Koh | 86666 944 | R020968Z
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