This is an interview with Lakpa Rita Sherpa, a world famous Sherpa climber. Please listen as he describes the Mt. Everest Biogas Project and it's benefits to the Sherpa community at the base of Mt. Everest.
For climbers all over the world, summiting Mount Everest represents a lifetime dream and one of their greatest achievements. But when they leave Mt. Everest, their human waste is left at the nearby Sherpa village of Gorak Shep. Today’s average climbing season produces nearly 12,000 kg of solid human waste. While recycling and trash programs are now in place, no real solution exists for the human waste generated by the climbing community. Modern treatment plants are impractical to build and maintain in this isolated corner of the world, so this waste is currently dumped into unlined pits at Gorak Shep, contributing to an increasingly polluted water supply. Despite all the efforts to clean up Mt. Everest, it is this environmental disaster that we are addressing, and we need help to get there!
In April 2010, a group of volunteer engineers and architects from the Seattle area formed the non-profit Mt. Everest Biogas Project to address this environmental issue. We have designed a biogas system that will safely break down the human waste and create clean burning methane gas for the Sherpa community. Our design includes not only the biogas digester, but also a small shelter to minimize temperature variations. This is a familiar technology; biogas digesters are used prolifically throughout Nepal, India and China.
Our design has been peer reviewed by local technical professionals and now it’s time to implement it. The biogas system concept was presented to Nepalese officials and teahouse owners in 2014. Now that the design is nearing completion, it is time to give them an update and begin planning to break ground.
We are trying to get 4 or 5 technical team members to Nepal in May 2016 to present the proposed design as well as to meet with local contractors and plan for its construction. We hope to raise $10,000 to make this trip happen; to help pay for the airfare and cost of getting to Gorak Shep. Once in construction, our project will use locally available materials and manpower; hire local construction companies; and help build community investment in preserving Mt. Everest for future generations.
Although we are formally affiliated with Engineers without Borders (EWB) and Architects without Borders (AWB), we receive no funding from either organization. Our only contributions are from the volunteer team members both in their technical expertise and personal time. Traveling members are volunteers and will be paying their own living expenses and taking time off from work to make this trip happen. Please help us raise the necessary funds to realize our design!
If our design is sustainable at Gorak Shep, then the potential for replicating the design in other high altitude locations with the same environmental issue of human waste can be achieved.
For the Sherpa communities that dwell in the foothills of Everest, this mountain is sacred. Please help us climb high for them and keep it that way. Donate now. Be a part of preserving this world treasure. It’s a place dreams are made of and we have an opportunity to help keep it that way.
Details of the digester design can be found on our web site: www.MtEverestBiogasProject.org
- Craig Anttila
- Daniel Mazur
- Kirk Robinson
- Michael Marsolek
- Alan Crews
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