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December, 2013:

Mingpao: HKIA admits new runway will affect habitats of white dolphins

Ahead of a study on the environmental impacts of the proposed Third Runway Project to be completed by the end of the year, the Hong Kong Airport Authority has released its findings on the potential impacts to the Chinese white dolphin population native to the Pearl River Estuary.

The study finds that reclamation works for the new runway will affect the usual movement patterns of the dolphins which forage around the waters off the Brothers Islands and Northwestern Lantau Island.

HKIA’s analysis claims that the population density and numbers of the dolphins in the areas north and west of the airport can only be classified as ‘medium’ and ‘low’. Overall data indicates a continual decline in the numbers of the white dolphin in the waters around the airport, with a longitudinal study released by HKIA yesterday finding that, within the waters of the proposed reclamation project, in the past year, a total of 215 dolphins were tracked in 62 pods, with each pod numbering 1 to 14 dolphins.

Additionally, the number of dolphins tracked in the areas north and west of the airport was recorded at an average of 11 dolphins per 100 km2, lower than the numbers of 67 and 44 dolphins per 100 km2 recorded by the Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department off the coasts of northwestern and western Lantau Island respectively.

Chinese white dolphin sightings in Hong Kong. The proposed reclamation area is shown to be a hotspot for the dolphins. (Hong Kong Dolphin Conservation Society)

The HKIA, however, admits that if the project receives the go-ahead, the channel used by dolphins for moving between the waters of Long Kwu Chau and the Brothers Islands will be obstructed by the reclamation area jutting out into the channel, forcing their movement paths north.


Impact from Typhoon Haiyan should prompt rethink on HK incinerator proposals

Hong Kong officials are still pressing to build an incinerator on the offshore island of Shek Kwu Chau, along with ash lagoons to deposit the (highly toxic) residual ash that the incinerator will produce. The devastation in the Philippines, from the recent ‘super typhoon’, should, however, prompt some rethink about the potential disaster if a typhoon of this magnitude should make direct landfall in Hong Kong. From an SCMP report on the aftermath of the typhoon:

Haiyan generated storm surges that saw waves three metres high swamp coastal towns and race inland.”The last time I saw something of this scale was in the aftermath of the Indian Ocean tsunami,” said Sebastian Rhodes Stampa, head of the UN Disaster Assessment Co-ordination Team sent to Tacloban, referring to the 2004 earthquake and tsunami.

Huge waves brought about by powerful typhoon Haiyan hit the shoreline in Legazpi city. (AP/Nelson Salting)


Euractiv: Incineration causes more problems than it solves

An interview with Ariadna Rodrigo, Resource Use Campaigner with Friends of the Earth Europe, published on Euractiv:

Touted by some as a two-fold solution to the EU’s energy and waste problems, incineration is not the answer the EU looking for as it debates changes to its waste and landfill rules, argues Ariadna Rodrigo.

There have been reports that incineration, the practice of burning waste, is inhibiting the development of recycling. Is this the case in the EU?

Yes, unfortunately this is the case. Incinerators come with a 20 or 30 year contract – a period in which municipalities are locked in to provide waste. This means municipalities have very little incentive to reduce, reuse or recycle waste. Europe already has too many incinerators and plans to build more will further hinder our chances of improving our waste management.

The price of materials has risen by 150% over the past ten years and it is estimated that we are throwing away over 5 billion euros annually. Our waste is wealth.

However, our policies allow these valuable materials to escape the economic cycle by being burned or buried. According to the latest Eurostat figures, we still landfill and incinerate 60% of our waste. We need to reverse this trend and ensure that we keep the materials in the economic cycle, through reuse and recycling, for as long as possible.