Project to tackle peat fire

Project to tackle peat fire

15 May 2011

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Malaysia — Four pilot peat fire mitigation projects have been built throughout Malaysia, with one in Miri.

Natural Resources and Environment Minister Datuk Seri Douglas Uggah Embas said the projects comprised watch towers and “pipe wells”.

The watch towers, costing about RM400,000 each, and wells, about RM200,000, will aid emergency relief personnel to spot fires, and then to flood peat areas.

“Water levels at peat areas can go down as much as 2m to 3m during the dry season, making the areas highly combustible. So now once that happens, we’ll ‘flood’ the areas accordingly with the pipe wells. It’s a very creative and yet quite cheap preventive and fire-fighting mechanism,” Uggah told reporters here during a pre-Gawai celebration on Friday.

The minister said two such projects were located in Selangor, and one in Pahang.

Sarawak’s version is among the largest, comprising one watch tower and three wells.

Earlier this week, a new Malaysian Meteorological Department (MET) report estimated northern Sarawak could receive 20% to 40% less rainfall than average this dry season.

The La Nina weather pattern since last year, which brought with it unusually high rainfall, has ended, while inter-monsoon season would only return in September. As for central and southern Sarawak, MET is forecasting a “neutral” dry spell. Average monthly rainfall for Kuching should be between 200mm and 300mm, while Bintulu could be the wettest in Sarawak, at an estimated 380mm monthly rainfall.

On the return of the haze this week, Uggah said incidents so far were transboundary.

“On our part, in hot and dry places like Miri, we must try our best to prevent fires, or else Brunei will complain,” he said.

He said open-burning would not be allowed throughout Malaysia.

Uggah will inspect the mitigation project in Miri tomorrow.

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