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May 1st, 2012:

Incineration firm fined after worker burnt with hot ash

12:03pm Tuesday 1st May 2012

By Mark Chandler

A COMPANY which runs New Cross’s incinerator has been criticised for
failing to protect a vulnerable worker who was severely burned with hot

City of London Magistrates’ Court heard how the employee sustained 17
per cent burns whilst cleaning ash from a filtration hopper at Veolia
Environmental Services’ Landmann Way plant on December 29 2009.

Ash fell onto him after he went into the hopper and started prodding it
with a rod to clear a blockage. The burns he sustained left him
hospitalised for a month.

An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) into the
incident found Veolia did not follow its own policies and procedures for
the management of dangerous tasks, putting a vulnerable worker at risk
by failing to provide him with adequate information or supervision.

The court heard the eastern European employee spoke little English and
had not been properly briefed in the plant’s working practices.

Veolia pleaded guilty to breaching the Health and Safety at Work Act and
was fined £5,000 and ordered to pay £12,243 costs.

After the April 27 hearing, HSE inspector Kerry Williams said: “The
victim was a vulnerable worker who should have been protected whilst
working for Veolia.

“However, he wasn’t provided with the basic information, training or
supervision to allow him to complete his job safely. As a result he was
badly exposed and he sustained severe burns in an incident that could
easily have been avoided.

“Veolia operates a high hazard site and as such should ensure its
systems are sufficiently robust to ensure people are not placed at
unnecessary risk.”

A Veolia spokesman said: “We deeply regret this incident and the
injuries sustained by the person concerned and immediately put in place
changes to our operating procedures to further improve our safety
systems relating to any work carried out by contractors on site.

“As a company we are committed to the highest standards of health and
safety and this remains our first priority as is evidenced by continual
improvements in our safety performance.”


© Copyright 2001-2012 Newsquest Media Group

US$32 Million Waste to Biofuel Contract in China

01 May 2012

Jersey based biofuel technology manufacturer, China New Energy (LSE: CNEL) has signed a letter of intent to develop a facility in northeastern China that will use non-edible plant waste to produce clean fuel.

According to a stock market report the company has entered into an agreement of intent with a state-owned ethanol producer to convert an existing facility into a more efficient and advanced facility that will be capable of producing 50,000 tonnes of biofuel each year.

The report said that the agreement has been reached with Jilin Tianshun Biochemical Development Co, a subsidiary of JEIC, for the production of biofuel using cellulosic materials (non-edible organic waste from agriculture).

Under the agreement, CNE and Tianshun will modify and convert an existing JEIC production facility in Jilin into a commercial-scale, integrated facility to commercialise CNE’s proprietary technology for cellulosic ethanol andbutanol production, according to the report.

The Jilin biofuel facility is expected to be completed by the end of 2013 and will have an annual production capacity of 50,000 tonnes per annum of acetone, butanol and ethanol.

The total cost of the developing Jilin facility is reported to be approximately RMB200 million ($32 million).

A study of Climate change in Hong Kong

Download full PDF : ea0922cb1-753-1-e

No Easy Scapegoat for Hong Kong Pollution

The Wall Street Journal


Bloomberg News

Pedestrians walk past the Central Roadside Air Quality Monitoring Station in the Central district of Hong Kong, China, on Feb. 18, 2012.

Hong Kong has long preferred to blame its smoggy skies on polluting factories just over the border in mainland China. But new analysis suggests that the blame for much of the city’s pollution rests squarely on Hong Kong’s shoulders.

According to just-released data from a regional government report, air quality in the Pearl River Delta area has continuously improved over the past year, thanks to initiatives to encourage better energy efficiency and cleaner industrial production. By contrast, Hong Kong’s own air quality, notably roadside pollution, has actually grown worse, says Clean Air Network, a local environmental group.

In the delta region last year, the average level of nitrogen dioxide, a key measure of roadside pollution (it’s the stuff that makes you cough when you pass by a bus trailing a cloud of smelly exhaust), was down by 13% from 2006 levels. But in Hong Kong, the levels measured at roadside monitoring stations during that same time period were actually up 28%, says the environmental group, citing data from Hong Kong’s Environmental Protection Department.

Indeed, for concentrations of nitrogen dioxide, Hong Kong ranks second among 32 major Chinese cities, surpassing even notoriously smoggy Beijing, according to official Chinese data.

“Hong Kong’s government is lagging behind the mainland here,” says Jia Yuling, the Clean Air Network’s education and research manager. For example, she notes, though Hong Kong has taken steps to adopt more stringent air-quality measures, “it was only after the same announcement in mainland China that Hong Kong’s government decided, ‘Oh, we need to catch up,’ and did the same.” For a city that’s wealthier than its mainland counterparts, says Ms. Jia, Hong Kong’s lack of leadership is disappointing.

To be sure, Hong Kong has taken steps to combat air pollution, including new measures to tamp down on sulfur dioxide emissions from local factories. But there’s plenty of room for improvement, says Ms. Jia, especially on issues of pollution from boats and ships, now one of the biggestcontributors to Hong Kong’s air-quality problem.

At this point, Hong Kong’s air has deteriorated to the point that it’s literally driving expatriates away from the region. Surveys have repeatedly found that the city’s noxious skies are hurting its competitiveness, with many expatriates preferring such greener, cleaner choices as Singapore. Tourists who make their way up to the city’s Peak to enjoy its famous views often find that the sought-after vistas are obscured by a dense blanket of smog.

The Clean Air Network says Hong Kong’s rising levels of car ownership and the aging of its vehicle fleet are partly to blame for its bad air. Across the border, a number of cities are taking on the problem of dirty old cars, and environmental activists say Hong Kong should do more to join them. For example, last week, Beijing’s Municipal Environmental Protection Bureau announced it would begin paying city residents and businesses between 2,500 yuan and 14,500 yuan ($397 to $2,301) to retire an aging or heavy-diesel vehicle. Other cities, such as Shenzhen, have offered similar deals.

Asked to comment on the issue, Hong Kong’s environmental-protection department hadn’t responded as of Monday afternoon.

“We can’t keep blaming regional air quality any more for our problems,” says Ms. Jia. “Hong Kong needs to do more to address local pollution on its own.”
– Te-Ping Chen. Follow her on Twitter @tepingchen

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Hong Kong firms pay the most for business airfares

SCMP Sophie Yu
May 01, 2012

The cost of business travel airfares for Hong Kong firms is the highest in the world, a report by Concur, a US provider of travel and expense management services says.

In its second global report on corporate spending on travel and entertainment (T&E), Concur reveals that the average cost of airfare in Hong Kong is US$1,112, while in India it is US$263, the lowest in the world. The average spending on airfare globally is US$441, up 5.2 per cent from 2010.

Christopher Juneau, senior director of marketing for Asia-Pacific at Concur Technologies, said airfare costs were high in Hong Kong because much of the travel that originated in the city was transoceanic, though that was balanced by short hops to the mainland.

The findings, based on data from Concur’s corporate clients, represented more than US$50 billion in spending last year by firms in more than 100 countries.

“With fuel prices and the cost of air travel continuing to increase, we wouldn’t be surprised to see this cost increase as well” this year, Juneau said.

The report ranks the 10 largest categories of T&E spending and the most expensive cities for business travel. The top three global categories – airfare, lodging and dining – accounted for more than 60 per cent of total spending, compared with 50 per cent in 2010.

Concur does not recommend reducing the cost of business travel by cutting the number of trips.

“For companies, face-to-face interaction with potential and existing clients is still as important as ever. Studies show that most business travellers still prefer meetings to video conferencing,” Juneau said.

The report shows that the city outside the United States most visited by business travellers last year was London, followed by Shanghai, Singapore, Beijing and Toronto.

However, Juneau said, as the mainland economy slowed, it would be logical to assume that business trips to the mainland and to Asia will fall this year. “But employees of Hong Kong companies also travel to North America, Australia, Southeast Asia and Japan,” he said.

Co-ordinate on waste disposal

SCMP – 1 May 2012

The Legislative Council’s environment panel made the right decision (“Bureau ditches HK$15b incinerator funding bid”, April 21).

The proposed Shek Kwu Chau incinerator posed an unacceptable risk of irreversible and ongoing health and environmental damage from air and marine pollution, with the high cost and risk involved in reclamation and transporting waste by barge. It had too many negatives.

Perhaps the Hong Kong and Guangdong governments could co-ordinate the disposal and recycling of their waste. In this way, they could harness available synergies, raise standards to their mutual benefit and achieve optimum management of Hong Kong’s waste, including harnessing energy from incineration into the electrical grid for domestic electricity consumption.

In the short term, perhaps Hong Kong could investigate the possibility of leasing capacity from waste incinerators in Guangdong, including at the world’s largest incinerator, to be built at Shenzhen.

The Hong Kong government should also liaise with Guangdong to minimise the health and environmental impact of Guangdong’s waste incinerators on Hong Kong.

Better still, maximise recycling and view all waste as a resource. With the right approach, there is “gold in garbage”.

Allan Woodley, Sydney, Australia