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November 27th, 2014:

Proposed incinerator will be world’s most expensive bonfire

26 November, 2014

In reply to Victor Sum’s letter (“Promote incinerator advantages [1]”, November 14), I would like to inform him that the proposed incinerator has nothing worth promoting.

In fact, 30 per cent of what is burnt will go to landfills. And, based on the Environmental Protection Department’s own data, this will require the extension of all three landfills.

The reality is that the incinerator is a poor choice for Hong Kong on account that it is old technology. It does pollute (why else would the Netherlands not install the same incinerator within 15 kilometres of a residential area, based on health concerns of its residents). It will cost Hong Kong taxpayers billions to build and millions to run once built. The energy it produces is small and there is no agreement on price from CLP, so it is unlikely to produce any cash offset for its operating costs. Plus, the incinerator won’t be ready until 2022 or later. All three landfills will require extending from 2015.

The problem is the department is blinkered and is pressing ahead knowing all this and residents like Mr Sum are sufficiently misinformed to buy what the department is selling.

There is a better solution. It is gasification and it burns everything. It is cheaper than the reclamation alone at Shek Kwu Chau. It produces “syngas” that can be turned into biofuel and sold to airlines and shipping operators, therefore producing a profit within the first year of operation.

If built now, it would be operational by 2016. But, best of all, it can be used to back-mine the existing landfills, turning them back into useable land (back-mining involves digging up the old rotting rubbish from the landfill and feeding it into the gasification plant).

Maybe Mr Sum and other residents with similar views should write to the department, instead of these columns, and demand a better solution than the world’s most expensive bonfire.

Craig Colbran, Lantau