After a disaster, demolition is key to economic recovery

In urban development projects, or the so-called "brownfields redevelopment" projects, the demolition costs for unusable buildings is always calculated into the development costs.  It remains perfectly unclear to me why the majority of donors exclude demolition from reconstruction projects after disasters. Probably demolition is seen as something destructive which nobody wants to be involved in. Instead, demolition after a disaster should be seen as a boost for economic recovery. In Guiuan, Province of Eastern Samar, Philippines, the City Hall was heavily damaged by the super-typhoon Yolanda in October 2013. The roof structure was prone to collapse and a significant part of the superstructure was so unstable that the next typhoon or earthquake might have caused the whole building to collapse.

Guiuan City Hall after Yolanda, 2013

Continue Reading

Environmental Implications of Coco Waste in the Philippines after Typhoon Yolanda, 2014

During the disaster relief phase the carbon footprint of disaster waste management is usually considered to be of lower priority than immediate restoration of infrastructure to provide food, potable water and sanitation. On the other hand, many activities that heavily impact on the carbon footprint of early recovery are irreversible, so the respective actions were considered and evaluated carefully. E.g. the dumping of coco waste materials on dumpsites is an irreversible process that increases the contribution to global warming.

Coco trees in Palo, five months after Yolanda

Continue Reading

Where Plain Waste Management Beats Innovation: Ocean Debris

Ocean debris is concentrated in a number of ocean garbage patches or "gyres", where a huge amount of debris, mostly consisting of floating plastics waste is spiralling until in the end it sinks to the ocean floor. The Ocean Cleanup (TOC) has been celebrated for a big technical solution to ocean debris. A young engineering student, Boyan Slat, has developed a big idea into a project, has convinced many people to pay into a crowd funding campaign, and has set off a massive research and planning project. He won awards and praise, not the least from the United Nations. Others too are working on similar solutions, for example Pacific Garbage Screening (PGS), who received an award from the German Government. Ocean scientists like  Deep Sea News criticise these approaches, because the big contraptions designed to collect debris will serve as huge fish aggregating devices and attract huge numbers of marine animals. So far the technology does not appear to be able to separate debris from marine life, endangering the fauna of the high seas. In this blog post I am looking at this proposed technology from the perspective of waste management. I made my observations based on The Ocean Cleanup's feasibility study because it was available on the internet, but I am quite convinced that looking at the feasibility studies of similar enterprises will come up with a similar result.

Beach at Jérémie, Grand'Anse Département, Haiti (April 2017)
Beach at Jérémie, Grand’Anse Département, Haiti (April 2017)

Continue Reading
How Should Compensation for the Loss of Agricultural Productivity be Calculated?
Oil spill near a fish farm in Niger Delta

How Should Compensation for the Loss of Agricultural Productivity be Calculated?

This is a very complex issue in contaminated land management. Projecting losses due to contamination into the future implies that the entity having to pay the compensation is trying to avoid remediation, for whichever reason. In my opinion, past losses can be estimated by the kinds of crops planted and harvested before contamination took place. Estimation of future losses can be based reliably on past losses. It makes a great difference if you are planting cassava with roots extending to a depth of 2-2.5 meters below ground surface [mbgs], or maize or beans with rooting depths of 0.5 mbgs or so. If we are estimating future losses, we will also have to take into account the future biological degradation of contaminants, which can only be estimated by making assumptions.

Continue Reading

Is Retrospective Valuation of Contaminated Land Possible?

I think it can be done just as well as current valuation, because you are always dealing with assumptions. Of course, you need historical data and documentation, the more the better. No data available will render a valuation useless. I have been working in a real estate development company in Germany, assisting in selling and developing hundreds of contaminated Russian Army military facilities of all kinds. The point to take into account is that even for current time land valuation the valuator is making assumptions. One recent example in Germany is that my former employer was subject of a criminal investigation because the Public Prosecution Service is charging them for selling a 200-hectare barracks area for about 10 million less than the valuator estimated. BUT: The valuator took assumptions that never came true, nobody wanted to tear down the buildings, repair the buildings protected by National Monument Conservation Authority, and build a golf range.

Continue Reading

End of content

No more pages to load