ABU DHABI // The emirate’s first landfill for hazardous waste will be opened within a year.
The landfill will be part of a hazardous waste complex to be built in two stages over the next two years.
The dump will be designed to handle corrosive, toxic or easily ignitable materials that too often end up in normal rubbish tips because of a lack of alternatives.
Such materials include waste from fertiliser plants, paper mills, pharmaceutical companies and plastics makers, as well as household items such as batteries, light bulbs, old paint cans and electronics devices.
As it stands, only hazardous waste created by the oil and gas industry is given special treatment, at plants owned and managed by the industry.
Municipal landfills do not have a plastic lining to stop hazardous substances leaking into the ground, polluting groundwater and spreading.
Items such as batteries and electronics gadgets leak toxic chemicals and vapours, and can ignite if the waste is not compacted.
Faris Al Munaiei, manager of projects and facilities at the Centre for Waste Management Abu Dhabi, said the planned complex would include a laboratory where hazardous materials would be tested.
It will also have a pre-treatment centre where highly volatile waste will be mixed with chemicals to make it more safely disposable.
The landfill will have a capacity of 10,000 tonnes a year and be able to store inorganic waste along with ashes from an incinerator, which will be constructed in phase two of the project.
The incinerator will be able to handle 15,000 tonnes of clinical and combustible waste a year.
Once the waste is burnt, the ashes will be solidified before being dumped.
The complex has been designed on projections that Abu Dhabi will produce between 15,000 and 25,000 tonnes of hazardous waste a year.
It is being built in coordination with a private company, Al Qudra Suez Services, which was last year awarded a Dh217 million concession to manage hazardous waste in Abu Dhabi.
The company, a joint venture between the Abu Dhabi property developer Al Qudra Holding and the French waste-management company Suez Environment, will also manage the complex for its first 15 years.
Experts are forecasting a huge increase in the amount of hazardous waste produced in the UAE.
The international consultancy Frost & Sullivan has estimated the country produces 80,000 tonnes of hazardous waste a year, but this could double by 2020 under current rates of growth.
The increase will come as the country continues to diversify its economy into industries such as fertilisers, metals and minerals.
Abu Dhabi produces about 43 per cent of the country’s hazardous waste and Dubai about 36 per cent, Frost & Sullivan says.
Dubai is the only emirate with a dedicated hazardous waste centre.