Given new lease of life

AT A glance, the park that is sandwiched between the townships of Puchong and Seri Kembangan looks like any other, with its undulating terrain and tarred road.

However, as its name suggests, Worldwide Landfills Park sits on the former Air Hitam Sanitary Landfill — the first engineered landfill in Malaysia.

The former landfill has been turned into a public park with a 5km jogging track (comprising both tarred road and interlocking bricks), bicycle track, and a playground and exercise area.

The 40.5ha site located next to the Air Hitam Forest Reserve also houses a renewable energy power plant that converts methane gas to generate electrical power, and a leachate treatment plant.

“This site marks two firsts in Malaysia — the first engineered landfill and the first renewable energy power plant,” said Worldwide Landfills Sdn Bhd business development manager Noor Azam Mastor.

Worldwide Landfills Sdn Bhd is a subsidiary of Worldwide Holdings Berhad (WHB), which is fully owned by Selangor State Development Corporation (PKNS).

“The Air Hitam Sanitary Landfill commenced operations on December 1995 and closed about a decade later on Dec 31, 2006.

“Although it was designed for a 20-year lifespan with a 6mil tonne capacity, the landfill reached its maximum design capacity within 10 years after accumulating 6.3mil tonnes of total deposited waste.

“We were also asked by the Federal Government to close the landfill due to its proximity to housing areas and encroaching development,” said Noor Azam.

At its peak, Noor Azam said the Air Hitam Sanitary Landfill received up to 3,000 tonnes of garbage a day, piled up to 50m high, from six local authorities — Ampang Jaya, Kajang, Kuala Lumpur, Petaling Jaya, Shah Alam and Subang Jaya.

After its closure, waste from the Klang Valley was then directed to a 64.7ha sanitary landfill in Jeram, Kuala Selangor.

“The sanitary landfills were designed to comply with the highest Environment Department requirements.

“The design includes a secure liner system and a cap to prevent groundwater and gas pollution (leaking of leachate and gas),” said Noor Azam, adding that the capping measure served to prevent rainwater from leaking into the landfill.

“A drainage system was built to channel the leachate to a treatment plant to reduce its toxicity, while a system of pipes and wells was constructed to direct the gases to the gas-powered electricity generation plant.”

As part of its concession agreement with the landowner which is the Selangor state government, Noor Azam said Worldwide Landfills undertook a five-year safe-closure and post-closure plan.

“The safe-closure stage ensures that the landfill is properly maintained so it does not affect neighbouring areas.

“Post-closure activities are undertaken to ensure that the closure of the landfill is done properly and adheres to environmental regulations.

“It includes monitoring and maintaining the waste containment systems and observing the groundwater,” he added.

Noor Azam said there were three technicians and six workers who worked round-the-clock to maintain and monitor the two plants at the park to ensure there were no untoward incidents such as excess run-off or gas leaks.

“The company was supposed to hand the site back to the state government after the five-year closure. However, the state government decided that WHB should maintain the park as part of its CSR initiative.

“In terms of expenditure, it costs RM50mil to RM70mil to set up the Air Hitam Sanitary Landfill, and RM6mil for the closure measures and park conversion.

“In addition, it costs us RM80,000 per month to maintain the park and run the leachate treatment process,” he disclosed.

Meanwhile, he said a tripartite agreement was signed between the state government, WHB and TNB.

“The 15-year agreement allows WHB the right to extract gas and generate power via the renewable energy power plant. TNB purchases electricity from the plant, while the state government is the landowner.

“The 2MW plant generates enough electricity supply to power 2,000 homes,” he said.

The park was opened to the public in December 2011.

It receives about 60 to 70 visitors during weekends, most of whom are residents from neighbouring areas such as Lestari Puchong and Taman Equine.

“We hope to work with the area’s local authority, the Subang Jaya Municipal Council, to create better awareness of its existence,” he said.

The GPS for Worldwide Landfills Park is 3.001525,101.664771

Entry is free.

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