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May 26th, 2012:

Burning questions over rubbish trips

SCMP – 26 May 2012

We have more news of freebie overseas trips to push the Hong Kong government’s incinerator agenda. Yesterday we wrote that although government plans for the Shek Kwu Chau incinerator are on hold after being voted down by Legco’s environment panel, the government is quietly trying to advance its agenda with a heavily subsidised trip to Singapore for island residents and environmental groups. The point of the visit is to learn about Singapore’s approach to waste management, which, unsurprisingly, is heavily reliant on incineration. A group called the Hong Kong Islands District Association is organising the trip, which is for 50 people, who are being asked to pay HK$1,000 for four nights and three days. Now we hear that another trip is planned for Taiwan, along the same lines. This time the invitation comes from Professor Jonathan Wong, who is with Baptist University, has received a number of research grants from the Environmental Protection Department in recent years, and is an advocate of incineration for dealing with Hong Kong’s waste. The trip to Taiwan is being funded by the Environment and Conservation Fund (ECF), and Wong sits on the ECF’s funding committee. Should the government be spending money in this way to surreptitiously advance a project whose future is currently uncertain?

Incinerator may be on hold, but jaunts to Lion City are a go
Howard Winn
May 25, 2012
Readers will be aware, as we keep going on about it, that progress on the government’s plans for an incinerator on Shek Kwu Chau is on hold. So you would have thought that the Environmental Protection Department (EPD) might like to take the opportunity to reconsider its plans. But not so. Lai See has learned that the government is quietly working behind the scenes to advance this project. Recently, various heads of environmental groups based on the islands have received an unusual invitation from the Hong Kong Islands District Association (HKIDA). Noting that the incinerator is a key issue of concern to island residents, it says the HKIDA is organising a trip to Singapore at the end of the month. The purpose of the trip is to study the Lion City’s approach to waste management. Singapore has been chosen for the excursion because it has four incinerators.

Participants only need to pay HK$1,000, which for four days and three nights in Singapore is not a bad deal. A trip like this would cost at least HK$6,000. There are 50 places available, so let’s assume conservatively it is costing HK$300,000. Who is funding this, you might wonder. Certainly not the HKIDA. The sponsors are the Environment and Conservation Fund (ECF) and Environmental Campaign Committee. These funds are for a wide range of non-profit environmental projects, and for promoting environmental awareness. One member of the ECF funding committee is Professor Jonathan Wong Woon-chung, who is with the department of biology at Baptist University. In the past few years, Wong has been the recipient of funding from the EPD and is periodically wheeled out by the government to promote incineration as a means of dealing with waste. Now there’s a coincidence

HKBU’s subsidised Taiwan jaunt offer

2012/5/15  (Google translate)
Subject: Hong Kong Baptist University  nominates you to participate in the 4 days and three nights of Taiwan’s environmental protection mission
Nominated you to participate in 4 Days 3 Nights of Taiwan’s environmental protection mission
Baptist University, Sino-Forest Pearl River Delta Environmental Applied Research Centre in the period from January 2012 to June waste none of your business “community involvement & public education programs Thanks to the active support of people from all walks of life, the plan was successful. This education program not only reflects the warm attention of the public of Hong Kong’s waste problem, and successfully collected the views of the districts public. In addition, the center will hold on June 25-28, 2012, a four-day and three nights of Taiwan’s environmental protection mission, Thank you for your support of this program, the Centre wishes to nominate you as  a candidate to participate in the event, the organizers and The sponsor will be further screened the participants list. Program “Environment and Conservation Fund”, you only need to pay (HK $ 1,000) will be able to participate in the total value of $ 5,000. Taiwan’s environmental protection mission.
The main purpose of this mission is to see the successful examples of green community as learning, visit the local waste disposal facilities: Taiwan EPA, waste recovery and disposal sites, incinerators, biotechnology, treatment facilities, and so on. In addition, the trip to Taiwan’s famous attractions (please refer to the attached tentative itinerary).
You fill in on or before May 19 of the annex to the reply slip, indicating that you have / are not interested in participating in the event, and pass to this center. Sponsor of the Environment and Conservation Fund “and the final list of this center will be further screening delegation from interested participants. Upon completion of the screening, the center will later notify all invited participants will later be selected for individual contact to arrange the details of activities. This is a golden opportunity! Hope that you will not miss the opportunity and look forward to your reply as soon as possible.
After the mission, each participant (institution) shall submit a brief inspection report within two weeks on personal feelings and views on waste management (about two A4 paper) as a reference to the views of the Hong Kong Government.
If you want to do this mission or have any questions or inquiries, please, and is responsible for contact colleagues Miss Tan (3411-2089/helentam @ or Chen (3411-2094/11467169 @ Let us work together to build a green community.
Sincerely yours reply. Cis-designate
Sino-Forest director of the Pearl River Delta Environmental Applications Research Center
Professor Jonathan Wong


浸會大學嘉漢林業珠三角環境應用研究中心於2012 年 1 月至 6 月期間的《廢物關你事》社會參與暨公眾教育計劃承蒙得到各界人士的積極支持 ,本計劃才得以順利進行。此教育計劃不但反映了公眾對香港垃圾問題的熱烈的關注,並成功收集了各區市民有關的意見。另外,本中心將於2012 年 6 月25至28日舉辦為期四日三夜的臺灣環保考察團,為感謝閣下對本計劃的支持,本中心欲提名閣下為是次活動的候選參加者,主辦和贊助單位會進一步篩選最後的參加名單。計劃獲得 《環境及自然保育基金》資助,您只需以優惠價(港幣一千元正)便能參與總值五千多元的臺灣環保考察團。

此考察團主要目的是以臺灣的綠色社區成功例子作為借鏡,參觀當地廢物處理設施,例如: 臺灣環保局、廢物回收處理場、垃圾焚化爐、生物科技處理設施等等。此外,還會到臺灣著名景點遊覽 (請參閱附件的暫定行程)。

請閣下於519日或之前填妥附件的回條,表明您有/没有興趣參加是次活動,並傳給本中心。贊助單位《環境及自然保育基金》和本中心會進一步從有興趣的參加者中篩選考察團的最後名單。篩選完成後,本中心會稍後通知所有被邀者,被挑選的參加者會稍後作個別聯絡,以安排活動細節。 這是一個千載難逢的機會!! 希望閣下切勿錯失良機,盼您能盡快回覆。

考察團過後,每位參加者(機構)須於兩週內提交一份簡短的考察報告,闡述個人感受和有關廢物管理的意見 (兩頁A4紙左右),作為給香港政府的意見參考。

如閣下對此考察團有任何疑問或查詢,歡迎與負責同事譚小姐(3411-2089/ 或陳小姐 (3411-2094/ 聯絡。讓我們攜手共建一個綠色社區。




2012 5 15

‘We didn’t reclaim in cement test’

Airport Authority says trial pumping of cement into mud pits under seabed for third runway was not reclamation so public did not need to be told
Amy Nip
May 26, 2012

Working underneath the seabed does not constitute reclamation, the Airport Authority said yesterday in defence of its decision to carry out a trial project for the proposed third runway without first informing the public.

The “deep cement mixing” project took place in January and February and drew criticism from environmentalists because it was not gazetted. It involves injecting cement into soft mud pits to form pillars, which then become the base for reclamation work.

WWF Hong Kong said the work created a bad precedent for the government to reclaim seabed wherever it liked.

But Tommy Leung, the Airport Authority’s general manager of projects, said it sought advice from the Department of Justice before starting the project and was told it did not contravene any laws.

“The project didn’t leave any temporary or permanent structures on top of the seabed … Sand and geotextile [a permeable fabric] were laid, so that the seabed was protected and could return to its previous state after the trial,” Leung said.

According to the Foreshore and Sea-bed (Reclamations) Ordinance, reclamation means any work over and upon any foreshore and seabed. Thus, work underneath the seabed does not necessarily constitute “reclamation”.

The trial involved drilling 20 metres under the seabed, injecting the cement and allowing it to solidify into pillars. Ten such pillars were made, Leung said.

Water sampling showed no harmful materials were released from the mud during the cement-mixing process, he added.

A total of 650 hectares of land will need to be reclaimed for the proposed third runway, and there are mud pits covering 40 per cent of the area. The new technology, which costs up to four times that of traditional reclamation methods, ensured reclamation was more environmentally acceptable, Leung said.

However, Leung’s explanation failed to convince the green groups, which said the trial altered the natural habitat for marine creatures, irrespective of whether it amounted to “reclamation”.

“A cement surface is totally different from sand,” WWF HK senior conservation officer Samantha Lee Mei-wah said.

Lee said invertebrates lived in the seabed, and formed part of the marine food chain. They could be destroyed by construction work underneath the seabed, she argued.

Samuel Hung Ka-yiu, chairman of the Hong Kong Dolphin Conservation Society, said dolphins were displaced even when no structures were erected on the seabed.

“Dolphins usually dive to the seabed to find food. The placement of geotextile on it means they can no longer find food there,” he said.

Former president of the Hong Kong Institute of Engineers Gregory Wong Chak-yan said the use of the geotextile layer raised questions about whether the project should be governed by reclamation laws.

Although the geotextile would not stay on the seabed for ever, local regulations governing seabed works did not differentiate between temporary and permanent projects, he said.