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Clear the Air: Letter to Legco Member On HK Air Pollution Policy

The following letter was sent to the Legco Member by Clear The Air:

8th January 2009

Dear Legco Members,

Clear the Air commends the Legco motion to pressure the Government to act by adopting WHO standards at an appropriate level and not at emerging nation levels which are lower than we have now.

We fail to see how ARUP, the consultants appointed to perform the AQO study , could possibly know more than the eminent researchers used by WHO in formulating its standards. We see no benefit in the EPD further engaging the public in consultations on our pea soup air and delaying matters further.

Our major pollution sources that damage health (moreso the growing lungs of our children) are our coal burning power stations , old diesel trucks and busses, ocean vessels burning high sulphur bunker fuel in the busiest port in the world , unburnt aircraft kerosene and for half of the year, imported pollution from the PRD.

The Government must also be forced to accelerate the use of the 52 million cubic meters of methane currently being flared off from NENT, WENT and SENT landfills. In the UK Gasrec Ltd has produced a diesel fuel replacement from landfill methane, Liquid Biomethane to replace diesel use in vehicles.

In San Antonio Texas, human waste will be used to produce methane to power the whole city. In Rwanda a prison is run by electricity powered from the same source. In Hong Kong instead, Government is calling for quotes to build and operate a sludge incinerator rather than taking heed of the San Antonio project.

The power companies are burning more and more polluting coal. In 2007 CLP burned 3 times more coal than in 1997. In 2007 CLP used 40% less clean natural gas than in 1999 whilst producing more electricity. HK Electric has only one gas turbine capable of 335 MWh and produced only 17% of its product with gas last year.

The Government must insist on these WHO AQO standards and the power companies will comply by using BACT (Best Available Current Technology). If the standards are set too leniently the power companies can benefit from burning more Indonesian cheap coal whilst still meeting the emission standards.

The technology is available such as Indigo Agglomerators. If you study the technical documentation available on this site
you will see how the tiny particulates reduce visibility opacity and add to the haze layer. The sky might be blue but the air we breathe is still smoggy grey and laden with these particulates. For the cost of 17 days’ coal supply CLP could retrofit a further 15 agglomerators and clear our air. HKEH would cost even less to do the same.

Only now are the power companies fitting Flue Gas Desulphurisation and NOx burner technology. In fact the super heat NOx burners create another problem in that they ‘crack’ the soot particles into lethal PM2.5 (report available). Current Electrostatic Precipitators in the power station stacks catch only 99% of soot particles and the remaining PM2.5 they cannot catch is then belched into the air. That is several thousand tonnes of lethal particles per year, let alone the greenhouse CO2. Hong Kong currently has no PM2.5 standard and PM2.5 is the killer; neither does it have any CO2 controls.

PM2.5 is a particulate with a diameter 1/30 of a human hair , it carries heavy metals and poisons from the coal and diesel combustion processes , cannot be stopped by nose hairs and so enters deep into the lungs.

It seems Hong Kong has a NATO Administration – No Action Talk Only.

Yours sincerely,

James Middleton

Energy Committee

Reference:  New Hong Kong Air Pollution Policy Proposed

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