Chakkrit Songsaeng, Phuket City Wastewater Treatment Chief at the plant, said that the two incinerators currently in action burn on average the same volume of garbage that is delivered from across the island each day – about 850 tons, depending on the number of tourists currently on holiday in Phuket.
But that is now about to change.
“This month (March), the daily average has increased to about 1,000 tons,” he said.
After separation and being dumped into waste pits to dry out, the volume of the garbage is reduced by about 20%, meaning on average 680 tons is incinerated each day.
“Two incinerators are working right now, and they can burn 700 tons per day combined,” Mr Chakkrit said. “But in the high season, the volume of the waste arriving can even reach more than 1,000 tons per day,”
With excess garbage arriving, each day about 20-30 tons is dumped into the landfill, which is now home to an estimated 600,000 tons of garbage – and that is after years of being able to burn off garbage dumped in the landfill bit by bit, each day, to nearly clear the mountains of garbage the area is known for.
Rungtiwa Sanbordo, an official from PJT Technology Co Ltd, confirmed to The Phuket News that during the years 2012 to 2016, incinerators were able to reduce the landfill pile and burn off more trash than was being received.
“However, last year and this year the burn-off has remained at tipping point,” she said.
“We might be able to manage to incinerate the waste at the landfill again after the first incinerator is repaired to come back to work again or when we have a new incinerator because the two incinerators we have now can only handle the waste arriving,” she explained.
Mr Chakkrit explained that the first incinerator, which could burn of up to 250 tons of garbage a day, had been working for 17 years, but stopped working in 2012.
Regarding any planned upgrades to the plant, he said, “For now we are able to handle the situation, but with the waste increasingly generated and coming to Saphan Hin every year it has led us to consider cancelling our budget request to the Bureau of Budgets to repair the first incinerator.”
“This project would cost B530mn to repair the first incinerator to operate again,” he said.
Although previous officials operating the plant had long before appealed for funds to repair the original incinerator, Mr Chakkrit noted that his team proposed the repair project to the government in 2016.
“They had approved our project, but later reconsidered it,” he said.
“The government is considering whether it is worth rebuilding the first one. We are waiting for the Phuket Provincial Administration Office (PPAO, or OrBorJor) to cancel the budget request to repair the first incinerator.
“Instead, we will consider allowing an organisation from the private sector to invest to either repair the first broken incinerator, or build two new ones, each with a capacity of burning 250 to 300 tons a day. This process will be more clear within this year,” he added.
Mr Chakkrit forecasts that by 2027, daily waste sent to the centre may reach 1,150 tons.
“Within this period the first incinerator must be restored, and its daily burn capacity must be 500 tons or more,” he said.
Chantima Mongkol, Phuket City Solid Waste Management Chief at the plant, expects that the process, even after cancelling the repair budget request, to take “about three to five years to complete”.
“With the number of tourists increasing every year as well as Phuket residents that keep throwing away a large volume of unnecessary waste, it could be nearly impossible that the whole landfill waste will disappear,” she said.
Ms Chantima took the opportunity to ask people to make a conscious effort to reduce their waste.
“I do want to urge Phuket residents not to throw things that have not been long used. They must know when they should throw things away. Most things can be used many times,” she said.
“People should also separate waste before throwing it out, and recycle them if they can. That will help the situation a lot,” she added.
“Phuket residents need to be aware that it is also their responsibility to help deal with the waste problem in Phuket,” she concluded.
– Pakin Intajak