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March 24th, 2012:

Burning issue is raging on

SCMP -24 March 2012

The Environmental Protection Department’s Elvis Au keeps saying that plasma arc technology is suitable for incinerating only small amounts of highly toxic waste matter and therefore Hong Kong should proceed with its plans for a traditional mass-burn incinerator on Shek Kwu Chau.

Yet the more he says it, the more we keep falling over evidence to the contrary. The Manila Bulletin recently ran a story saying that Houston-based Quantum International and the City of Surigao in Mindanao had extended plans for a small plasma arc waste-energy plant to one that would gobble up 5,000 tonnes of municipal solid waste a day and produce 5,000 megawatts of electricity for the province.

The hope is that by 2014 there will be 10 plasma arc facilities producing 13,000 megawatts of electricity a day. Earlier this month, Quantum announced it had signed preliminary agreements in China to build the largest plasma waste-energy plant in the world, without giving details.

Hopefully, Legislative councillors will next week be able to persuade the EPD to explain why a plasma arc incinerator is unsuitable for Hong Kong, when they are mushrooming all over the world.

The suspicion is that the attraction of the toxin-producing incinerator is the billions of dollars that will go to construction firms to enlarge the island.