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<Integrated Waste Management Practices To Protect Freshwater Resources:
Case Studies From West Asia,
The Mediterranean, And The Arab Region>

  1. Solid Waste Management in Oman

    3.1 The locations of solid wastes dumpsites

    Most of the solid waste dumpsites are located far away from residential areas. Burning of the waste is a common practice in some of the locations, which leads to air pollution and the accumulation of heavy metals. Moreover, using pesticides in those sites represents another burden.

    As it was mentioned above, it was not possible to keep pace with the rapid rise in living standards in the sultanate, and sanitary dumpsites were not introduced yet. Such dumpsites include coating the floor of the site with a liquid proof layer to prevent any leakage. Furthermore, there are no suitable mechanisms to accumulate and compact the waste in different layers to prevent internal combustion.

    In addition, choosing the current sites was not based on scientific grounds, as some dumpsites are located on the same valleys, where wasted water is being drained, the danger of polluting the ground water on which many areas depend on is a main concern that is currently being studied seriously.

    3.2 Municipal Solid Waste according to the Omani definition and the regulations on its management

    The regulations on managing municipal solid waste was issued by a ministerial decree number 17/93 stating that it is "any solid or sub solid matter that does not cause harm to the environment or human health if treated in the proper scientific ways". Those matters include the following:

    a) Household waste

    • The solid or sub solid matter generated from households, commercial, industrial or agricultural places.
    • The wreckage resulting from construction or destruction processes.
    • Junk iron including old car frames.
    • Dry mud resulting from wastewater treatment plants for houses, factories and farmlands waste water; given that they do not include poisonous elements with concentrations that exceed the level set by the regulations on sewage waters.
    • Ashes resulting from burning on the condition that the levels of the poisonous material are within the standards that are applied to the characteristics of mud resulting from the treatment of waste waters.

    Solid waste disposal is not well managed. In general, there is a lack of awareness in this field. The recycling of wastes in the sultanate has started since several years. The most important recyclable material is the metals oil, fish and agricultural waste. With the exception of some main municipalities, there is a lack of awareness of the piling and disposal of the wastes. Some dumps are even used without license.

    b) Medical Waste

    Disposing medical waste in Oman represents a health risk. In most cases, medical waste is not separated from other waste and they are dumped together in the same dumpsite, despite the fact that this is officially illegal. There is a lack of special dumpsites for disposing of this waste. It has to be noted that some medical centers like the big hospitals depend on incineration.

    3.3 Studies

    The sultanate enters a new phase in the industrial path with the aim of diversifying the sources of income and avoiding dependence on oil as a main source of income. This has necessarily led to the increase of the quantity and quality of the solid waste as well as the possible effect on health and environment. This requires setting a new active policy for waste management.

    Due to the rapid growth and development Oman has witnessed in the last years, as well as the population distribution in most of the sultanate, the traditional methods for dealing with solid waste have become useless and need reconsideration to avoid the dangers of pollution or any other environmental hazards.

    The sultanate has paid a full attention to this problem by developing and modernizing the laws and conducting studies by the ministry of local municipalities and environment and Muscat municipality. Some of these studies are:

    • Managing solid waste in the capital and the suburbs 1977.
    • Managing solid waste in Oman 1983.
    • Report on planning the system of solid waste: collecting, transporting, treatment in Muscat 1985.
    • Preparing a draft for hazardous and non hazardous waste instructions 1989.
    • Survey for solid wastes accumulation in Oman 1992.
    • National survey for dangerous wastes and developing a data base 1995.

    Moreover, the Ministry of Local Municipalities and Environment is currently about to launch a project including a study and a survey for all the locations of solid waste in Oman in its attempt to implement a plan for surveying non-hazardous solid waste. The project also includes identifying and developing a computer-based database and preparing a draft for environmental codes related to the non-hazardous solid waste.

    What is more important is that the project includes preparing the national strategy and a work plan for waste management for the next 25 years. It also includes a full revision and modification of the current legislation and regulations for managing non-hazardous solid waste. The project aims at presenting a comprehensive framework to evaluate the needed means in terms of capital and practical methods of implementing a policy for waste management.

    To start this study, the ministry conducted an intensive inspection for the waste locations to determine the actual locations of waste dumps and to find out the main characteristics for waste management. This will represent the main basis for this study.

    Moreover, the ministry has been working since 1995 to develop a national plan for hazardous solid waste management. This project will be built on a commercial basis by the private sector. Proposals and technical offers were submitted and the project will be operating fully starting from the collection of hazardous wastes until their final disposal in the whole country through an environmentally sound method. The project is expected to start by the end of 2001.

    3.4 Future plans for waste disposal

    There is a tendency for transformation to mechanical treatment plants to recycle the waste. The private sector was invited to make use of the solid waste and recycle it. In this context, projects are starting in this field, for example, the project of producing rubber powder and melting iron from used car tires. This project in itself is very useful for the environment since it offers a safe handling of the used tires, which represent a burden to the dumpsites.

    The residues of aluminum factories and iron, copper and plastic junk are collected and recycled by various companies. Used Motor oil is also recycled in a factory in the city of Sohar and some companies recycle empty bottles. Furthermore, farmers make use of sawdust in chicken houses, which is then used as organic fertilizers.

    With the presence of a big herding sector, especially in the governorate of Dhafar, some companies collect the feces of herds and send them to organic fertilizer factories to produce natural fertilizers.

    As for the leftovers of fish, they are being collected and recycled in special factories to produce fish oil and powder, which are used as fodder and fertilizers. The leftovers of slaughter houses, particularly the leather, which goes to a tannery for manufacturing leather.

    3.5 Units of treatment and sewage system

    The sultanate made great efforts in the wastewater treatment units. Treatment units were made in some big cities in the sultanate in order to minimize ground water pollution to tackle the problem of water scarcity in the country. For example, there is currently a comprehensive project for a sewage water treatment plant in the city of Salalah and a main network to gather and transfer the wastewater to this central treatment plant.

    The treated water would then be used for irrigating public parks and plantations in general. The construction of the central treatment plant is already completed and work is going on for completing the services of the drainage network. This is one of the sustainable infrastructure projects and a model for the sustainable liquid waste treatment. This project leads to the following positive results:

    • Decreasing the environmental dangers, especially the pollution of groundwater in Salalah.
    • Making use of the treated wastewater in irrigation.
    • Making use of the treated mud.
    • Pursuing the international development on the environmental level.
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