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June 9th, 2012:

MARTIN Gmbh für Umwelt- und Energietechnik

the problem is, the remaining 22% bottom ash and 6-7% highly toxic fly
ash by weight.
So what do you do with the ash ?  landfill.
And if the landfills are full……………………..?

23/04/2012 Foshan Nanhai I, China
Extension by 3 lines
In March 2012, our cooperation partner Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Environmental & Chem-ical Engineering Co., Ltd. (MHIEC) was awarded the contract to supply the technical equipment for the extension of the Foshan Nanhai I plant. Three MARTIN reverse-acting grates with a width of 9.48 m will be used. The throughput is 3 x 500 t/d.

Start-up of the 3 combustion lines is planned for 2013.

07/12/2011 Dongguan Downtown, China
Order for delivery of three grate systems
Our licensee, Chongqing Sanfeng Covanta Environmental Industry Co., Ltd., has been awarded a new contract to supply grate systems. Three combustion systems will be supplied to the waste-to-energy plant in Dongguan Downtown (Guangdong province), People`s Republic of China. The grates with a throughput of 600 t/d each will be manufactured in China and will use the MARTIN SITY 2000 technology.
19/10/2009 Dongguan, China
Order for delivery of 3 grate systems
Our licensee, Chongqing Luneng Environment Industry Co., Ltd., has been awarded a new contract to supply grate systems. Three combustion systems will be supplied to the waste-to-energy plant in Dongguan (Guangdong province), People’s Republic of China. The grates will be manufactured in China and will use MARTIN SITY 2000 technology. Each grate will have a throughput rate of 600 t/d.

Talking trash

The Economist

Energy from waste: Incinerators that use rubbish as a fuel to generate electricity and heat continue to have an image problem. That is unfair, because the technology has advanced considerably and has cleaned up its act

TOWARDS the end of “Toy Story 3”, Buzz Lightyear, Sheriff Woody and the other toys find themselves heading into the maw of a moving-grate garbage incinerator. In real life, if the plant had been built before 1989, burning plastic toys in it would produce a nasty dose of dioxins and furans—toxic emissions from combustion in the presence of chlorine—along with heavy metals and some dubious organic compounds. Until then, few people were aware that such chemicals presented a serious health hazard, capable of upsetting the immune system, damaging the liver and causing cancer. Municipal incinerators were among the worst offenders.

The industry subsequently spent billions of dollars retrofitting incinerators with activated-carbon injectors and particle traps to capture the dioxins, furans and volatile metals like cadmium and mercury. Thanks to new rules, the emission of such toxic chemicals from waste processing has been reduced a thousandfold. The total output of dioxins and furans from all the incinerators in America is now less than ten grams a year, according to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). People burning rubbish in their backyards, by contrast, may produce 50 times as much.

Even so, municipal incinerators—especially the new waste-to-energy (WTE) plants that use rubbish as a fuel to generate electricity and heat for local distribution—continue to have an image problem. In many countries people generally prefer their waste to be composted (provided, of course, the landfills are nowhere near their own backyards). But without costly plumbing, landfills produce copious quantities of methane, a powerful greenhouse gas that does more than 20 times the damage to the environment as comparable emissions of carbon dioxide.

At some of the larger municipal landfills, the methane produced by anaerobic decomposition is captured and used to generate electricity. The mountain of rubbish at the Puente Hills Landfill in Los Angeles, the largest of the 1,900 municipal landfills in America, is over 500-feet high—taller than most of the skyscrapers in the city’s downtown area. With 60 years’ worth of decomposing rubbish, Puente Hills produces enough methane to generate electricity for 70,000 homes.

But landfill space is increasingly scarce, and as the rubbish piles up, officials are reconsidering the sensitive issue of incineration. Modern incinerators capture the energy from solid waste as well as the emissions from the combustion. Such WTE plants burn rubbish at temperatures high enough (over 850°C) to break the molecular bonds in dioxins and other toxic chemicals and thus render them harmless. The flue gases are cooled in heat exchangers, producing steam to drive electricity-generating turbines.

The gases are then passed to a cleaning system that filters fine particles from the flow and scrubs the gas to remove sulphur dioxide, acids and heavy metals. Next, the flue gases pass through a catalytic converter, where the nitrogen oxides are chemically reduced using ammonia or urea. Finally, any volatile heavy metals remaining in the flue gas are absorbed by activated-carbon powder. The volume of the ash left after combustion amounts to around 5% of the waste ingested. The ash at the bottom of the combustion chamber is either buried in municipal landfills or recycled as aggregate for the construction industry. The fly ash that rises up the flue needs further processing to remove any toxic particles that might be clinging to its surface. The result is a remarkably clean and efficient process for disposing of rubbish.

Because much municipal rubbish (eg, paper, cardboard, wood, cloth and food scraps) has a biological origin, the electricity and heat produced by WTE plants is considered renewable energy. And for every tonne of municipal waste that avoids being buried in a landfill and is burned instead in a WTE plant, the amount of methane entering the atmosphere is reduced by the equivalent of almost a tonne of carbon dioxide, calculates the EPA.

Nimbyism aside, the main objections to WTE incineration are that waste should be recycled rather than burned, and that better WTE technologies are waiting in the wings. Recycling requires the rubbish to be sorted into recyclable metals, plastics, glass and paper, with the biological residue then broken down using anaerobic microorganisms into biogas and compost. The biogas (primarily methane, carbon dioxide and hydrogen sulphide) can then be used to generate electricity, or even cleaned and compressed to make fuel for cars.

That biological step might eventually be replaced with some form of heat-treatment, such as high-pressure superheated steam in an autoclave, or gasification using a plasma arc that vaporises the waste in the absence of oxygen, so that few of the noxious products of combustion are produced. Either way, the result is a biofuel for generating electricity. Such technologies could one day prove more attractive than today’s waste-to-energy incineration.

In his book “Garbology: Our Dirty Love Affair With Trash”, the Pulitzer prize-winning author Edward Humes notes that other wealthy countries with high living standards have rejected the disposable products that make up much of America’s rubbish. According to the OECD, the average person creates 3.3lb (1.5kg) of rubbish a day in France, 2.7lb in Canada and no more than 2.3lb in Japan. By the OECD’s reckoning, the average American produces 4.5lb a day, and more recent accounting puts the figure at over 7lb a day, less than a quarter of which is recycled.

Why does America produce so much more rubbish? The difference is that in Europe and Japan it is manufacturers, rather than consumers, that are held responsible (via taxes on packaging waste) for the cost of processing the packaging used to wrap their goods. This gives them an incentive to use less of it. By contrast, in America, the cost of cleaning up the mess is dumped at the consumer’s door. That, more than anything, is what needs to change.

from the print edition | Technology Quarterly

Energy that won’t go to waste

Updated: 9 June 2012 | 12:12 am in Gazette Guest Columnists

By Dennis Naughton


The massive fire at the Iowa City Landfill gives us an opportunity to pause and think about the hazards and to examine alternatives to landfilling. Bad things can happen in a landfill, even if nobody is at fault.

It seems so easy to just bury our waste and forget about it. But it doesn’t go away. Plastics in a landfill, when burned at low temperatures, have long been known to produce hazardous chemicals such as dioxins, which are carcinogenic. Although modern landfills are required to be lined, statistics show they all have a tendency to leak or leach out over time into the local water supply. The liners are often made of plastic — yes, the same type of plastic that can produce dioxins when burned.

Reports of tests of Iowa City’s air quality so far say the chemical content in the air is below what the Environmental Protection Agency considers safe. If the landfill continues to burn, hazardous air quality will continue to be a threat.

According to news reports, the lining of the landfill is ruined. In addition to the air, chemicals leaching into the land could endanger the water table downstream. The estimated $4 million to $6 million repair or replacement cost will grow.

It is just such concerns that led the city of Marion a year ago to become the only city in Iowa to adopt a zero-waste ordinance, which enables it to opt out of the regional landfilling plan and divert its waste to productive uses such as a plasma arc facility. The city formed a public/private partnership with wastenotIOWA, a non-profit organization, and Plasma Power LLC, a Florida-based startup, to facilitate the construction in Linn County of the first regional plasma gasification facility in the United States.

Plasma technology involves the application of an electrical arc or torch to waste. At 3,600 degrees Fahrenheit (2,000 Celsius), gas molecules dissociate into their original atomic elements. Examples of plasma are lightning, fluorescent gas in light bulbs, and sparks from spark plugs. Referred to by its advocates as waste-to-resources, some of the products derived from this technology include synthesis gas, steam, electricity, and rock wool insulation.

Using our waste as fuel does not introduce new carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. Waste processed in a plasma facility is carbon neutral.

The city of Marion and wastenotIOWA Corp. selected Plasma Power LLC to build the first facility in Linn County because of its flexibility in tailoring their system design to the local customer base and waste supply, as well as the company’s engineering talent. Instead of competing with local power companies in attempting to sell electricity to the grid, Plasma Power has identified corporate customers for steam and has streamlined its system to produce steam from municipal waste at a cost lower than companies can produce it from new steam plants built since the flood of 2008.

According to Federal Emergency Management Agency reports, there were 3,108 landfill fires in 2010, some accidental and others intentionally started for such purposes as incineration methane production. Processing waste in a plasma facility differs from incineration in that municipal solid waste exposed to high heat in a plasma facility does not burn.

To protect our cities and the environment in which we live, it’s time to take a serious look at plasma arc or torch technology. Gov. Terry Branstad just signed a law granting tax credits for solar energy like those available to wind producers. It is time for Iowa to establish a complete renewable energy policy to encompass other renewable technologies, and plasma arc specifically.

After all, why bury energy?

Dennis Naughton, a Marion attorney, is president of wastenotIOWA Corp., a non-profit organization formed to study and advocate for technology solutions to landfilling. He can be reached at (319) 631-2110 or waste

Energy grab from waste sent to landfill

As the world’s fossil fuel resources are depleted, we are facing a mounting crisis of energy supply. At the same time, global population growth and rising living standards mean that we are producing more waste than ever before. The world is, quite simply, facing a resource crisis – we have too much of one resource, and too little of another. Waste-to-energy technologies have an important role to play in resetting this balance. While advances have been made in recycling, waste is too often treated as a burden rather than a resource.

Advanced Plasma Power (APP), a UK-based waste-to-energy technology provider, has developed the Gasplasma system – a flexible and sustainable waste-to-energy/fuels process. Gasplasma’s potential is being demonstrated in the world’s first enhanced landfill mining project. This project, at the landfill site of Remo Milieubeheer NV in Houthalen-Hechteren, Belgium, will convert 16m tonnes of landfilled waste into recyclables and clean energy. It is a joint venture between APP and global waste management firm Group Machiels, and will use APP’s Gasplasma technology to convert the waste into clean, local energy and heat for nearby greenhouses. Once completely cleared, the site will be returned to nature.

The first stage of the Gasplasma process will see the landfilled waste sifted to remove any oversized objects. The remainder is then processed in a Materials Recycling Facility (MRF) to recover any metals, glass and hard plastics, before the residue is shredded and dried to make refuse derived fuel (RDF). The next stage comprises a fluidised bed gasifier which transforms the organic materials in the RDF into a crude or unrefined syngas (see box for an explanation of the Gasplasma process).

Removal of waste from landfill will cut greenhouse gas emissions from the site, and remove any risk of land and groundwater contamination. Gasplasma technology processes waste in an environmentally benign way – the only products are syngas, residual heat and Plasmarok. No emissions are released, and no toxic bottom ash is produced.

There are currently over 2bn tonnes of waste sitting in landfill sites across the UK. The long term trend of rising land prices provides a commercial incentive for freeing up this land, which in many cases is now close to centres of population as towns and cities have grown. Moreover, 2bn tonnes of waste has enormous green energy and resource potential.

The Gasplasma process is not limited to landfill mining projects and APP is developing projects around the UK (and internationally) which will treat residual municipal and commercial solid waste before it reaches landfill. The potential for landfill diversion in the UK is considerable. landfill tax will reach £80 per tonne in 2014, and the government is committed to reducing the amount of waste sent to landfill under the EU Landfill Directive. Support is also available for renewable energy/fuels and/or heat generation from waste especially where this is undertaken using advanced conversion technologies such as Gasplasma. Despite these incentives, 55% of municipal waste generated in the UK is sent to landfill, compared to an EU average of 40%. There is both a carrot and a stick for communities and local authorities to invest in efficient waste-to-energy technologies.

A typical Gasplasma facility accepts 150,000 tonnes of residual municipal solid or commercial and industrial waste a year, enough to produce around 90,000 tonnes a year of RDF. This is enough to generate renewable power for around 17,500 homes, and residual heat for an additional 700. Moreover, Gasplasma offers a small-scale energy solution. A full-scale Gasplasma plant is around 15m high, meaning that it can fit into a standard warehouse, similar to the kind used for out of town business parks. A plant can be located unobtrusively on the edge of a town, taking waste from that town and supplying power and heat in return. The technology is also scalable, and can be supplied in multiple units to process higher quantities of waste, depending on the size of the community it serves. The Gasplasma process therefore provides a local, community solution to both local waste management challenges and sustainable energy requirements.

In addition to the benefits to the local community, the business case for a Gasplasma plant is well supported. Gasplasma is more cost effective than the alternatives of landfill and incineration. The process is highly efficient, with high combined heat and power potential, enabling it to be operated at a cost that compares very favourably with other thermal waste treatment technologies. Incinerators produce around 20 to 25% ash which require transport, processing and disposal thus further impacting the cost and carbon footprint. The Gasplasma process produces no bottom ash; instead, waste products are vitrified into Plasmarok, which can itself be sold, delivering an additional revenue stream. Finally, as most of the equipment used in a Gasplasma plant will be manufactured off-site, a plant can be built and installed in 18 months compared to 24-30 months for an incinerator, which requires a substantial amount of on-site fabrication work.

The benefits and potential of the Gasplasma process are currently being demonstrated at APP’s plant in Swindon. This facility has been in operation since 2008 and is used to test waste feedstocks, helping to maximise the efficiency and for other development purposes. On a commercial level, APP currently has around 10 projects in the pipeline, all at various stages of development. Some have existing planning consent for gasification, while planning and permitting applications are in preparation for other sites.

The potential for the Gasplasma process as a gateway technology is enormous. APP recently announced a project with the National Grid to develop and demonstrate an end-to-end process that will use Gasplasma technology to produce bio-substitute natural gas (Bio-SNG) for injection into the national gas grid. It is estimated that bio-SNG could account for as much as one-fifth of the UK’s total heating requirements by 2050. Domestic heating alone accounts for over 35% of the UK’s carbon emissions – by producing gas from waste, the Gasplasma process could therefore contribute significantly to ‘greening’ the UK’s energy network. Another key area for development is the use of fuel cells to produce electricity either directly from the syngas produced by the Gasplasma process or from hydrogen (or bioSNG) derived from the syngas. APP is working with a number of partners to demonstrate these alternative uses.

BOX OUT – how Gasplasma works

A full Gasplasma plant comes in four main sections:

1) a waste reception hall and Materials Recycling Facility (MRF);

2) the core Gasplasma technology consisting of the fluidised bed gasifier and plasma convertor;

3) gas cleaning equipment to cool, clean and condition the syngas;

4) a power island to generate renewable power directly from the syngas and recover residual heat.

The core Gasplasma technology is an internationally patented two stage advanced conversion technology (ACT). It combines two long standing and well proven technologies in a unique configuration to convert waste into a clean, hydrogen-rich synthesis gas (syngas).

The first stage is a fluidised bed gasifier (FBG) which transforms the organic materials in the RDF into a crude syngas containing tars and chars. It does this by heating the RDF to a high temperature, around 800oC, in a highly controlled reduced oxygen environment.

The crude syngas is then passed into a separate, secondary plasma converter (PC). The intense heat from the plasma arc and the strong ultraviolet light of the plasma ‘cracks’ the crude syngas. The cracking creates a clean syngas, while the bottom ash from the gasifier is vitrified into a product called Plasmarok.

The syngas is then cooled, cleaned and conditioned through wet and dry scrubbers before being used directly in a power island to generate renewable energy. Residual heat is also recovered from the process to be used in CHP mode within the process itself as well as for other users in the vicinity.

The cleaned syngas is used in a power island, consisting of reciprocating gas engines or gas turbines, to generate renewable power. Looking ahead the power island will comprise fuel cells or the syngas will be used to create synthetic natural gas or gaseous or liquid transport fuels.

Rolf Stein is ceo of Advanced Plasma Power

Road Side Pollution and Cardiovascular Disease

Kunzli et al (2010)’s study indicates an association between exposure to traffic-related air pollution and the progression of atherosclerosis in humans.

Download PDF : Kunzli (2010) – Ambient Air Pollution & the Progress of Atherosclerosis in Adults

Government to curb worst sources of pollution in Macau

The result of a public consultation conducted on Macau’s 2010/2020 Environmental Protection Plan will be revealed within two months. “We are arranging the opinions of different sectors”, explained Cheong Sio Kei, Director of the Environmental Protection Bureau (DSPA) during a press conference held yesterday in occasion of the “2012 Macau Environmental Week”.
Cheong Sio Kei did not reveal the date for a final report, which includes measures that the government will take. When questioned about the plans the Government will carry out in light of the most recent report on the environment that shows deteriorating figures, the Director said they are studying new measures together with a science institution in South China. “We are going to work together with competent authorities in order to reinforce the quality of the environment and we are studying the establishment of maximum figures concerning the worst sources of pollution in Macau.” Cheong also stressed that after having defined the limit of exhaust fumes for motorbikes in 2008, the maximum quantity of exhaust fumes for cars in Macau is being analyzed. Therefore, DSPA is working together with the Transport Bureau. The criteria for “eco-vehicles” have already been published on the DSPA website. “We are not entitled to define a limit for the number of cars circulating in Macau”, Cheong said, “but we think that through the elimination of vehicles that are producing a high amount of pollution, we can contribute to the control of the number of cars.” The DSPA is also studying the use of electric cars in Macau.
Cheong mentioned the work is being carried out in conjunction with Zhuhai authorities in order to tackle pollution at the Canal dos Patos. In addition to the regulation of exhaust fumes, Cheong thinks there should be an independent consultation to analyze construction works that are established in natural areas.
The DSPA Director presented activities organized for the “2012 Macau Environmental Week” that will take place between June 3rd and 9th in order to commemorate “World Environment Day” on June 3rd. In collaboration with several governmental departments and associations from the cities and regions of Guangzhou, Hong Kong, Zhongshan, Zhuhai, Shengzhen and Dongguan, DSPA is organizing activities on Tap SeacSquare that aim at promoting the “reduction of waste at the source”.
The activities include a range of events related to daily life. The aim is to inspire the citizens to include environmental protection into their daily routine. According to research from 2011 on Macau citizens’ knowledge on environmental protection, the participation in environmental protection measures “was too low”.

It’s only ‘simple air pollution’

SCMP Laisee 10 June 2012

It’s only ‘simple air pollution’

We see that the government has failed in efforts to block a judicial review of the Shek Wu Chau incinerator. This will go ahead in November. But we have to say we were unimpressed by the remarks of the government’s counsel Johnny Mok Shu-luen SC at the court hearing. Pointing out that the government was not required to carry out a hazard assessment with respect to the proposed incinerator, he remarked, “We are talking about simple air pollution…It’s not going to be life-threatening. It’s only going to have a very limited impact.”

We know he is only doing his job, but it is disturbing to hear such offhand comments about air quality. Is he reflecting the thinking at the Environmental Protection Department? We think our learned friend should look at the Hedley Environmental Index, which can be found at There he will see that the number of avoidable deaths due to air pollution last month alone amounted to 200. The economic loss in terms of air pollution-related burden of disease and loss of productivity amounted to HK$42.5 billion last year and is HK$15.3 billion so far this year.

So much for “simple air pollution”, Mr Mok.

LCQ16: New Air Quality Objectives

Hong Kong (HKSAR) – Following is a question by the Hon Abraham Shek Lai-him and a written reply by the Secretary for the Environment, Mr Edward Yau, in the Legislative Council meeting today (June 6):

The Government proposed in January 2012 a set of new Air Quality Objectives (AQOs) which lays down the atmospheric concentration limits for seven pollutants together with a host of air quality improvement measures to help Hong Kong achieve the AQOs. However, in the new AQOs, the concentration limits of four pollutants (i.e. sulphur dioxide (SO2) (24-hour mean), ozone, respirable suspended particulates and fine suspended particulates (PM2.5) (annual-mean and 24-hour mean)) fail to match the highest levels prescribed in the World Health Organization (WHO)’s Air Quality Guidelines published in 2006, and the green groups have criticized the Government for taking a “half-hearted” approach to implement the air quality improvement measures. In addition, it has been reported that according to the China Statistical Yearbook 2011, Hong Kong’s nitrogen dioxide level ranks 31st out of 32 major cities in China. In this connection, will the Government inform this Council:

(a) whether the Government has considered the public health impact with limits of SO2 (24-hour mean) and PM2.5 benchmarked against WHO’s Interim Targets and Air Quality Guidelines; if it has, of the details; if not, the reasons for that; whether it knows any details of affirmative overseas examples in which limits comparable to those in the new AQOs are adopted; of the principles considered and views from the public consultation in 2009 which affirm the proposed limits;

(b) given that it has been reported that the Ministry of Environmental Protection on the Mainland has proposed a tougher limit for nitrogen dioxide than that of Hong Kong, whether it will consider imposing a standard at least on par with that proposed by the Ministry; if it will, of the details; if not, the reasons for that;

(c) whether it has considered the difficulties construction projects will encounter and additional compliance cost they will incur in securing approval against the new AQOs under the Environmental Impact Assessment Ordinance (Cap. 499), including but not limited to, as reported, the proposed construction of the third runway at Hong Kong International Airport the emission level of nitrogen dioxide of which may exceed the proposed limit; if it has, of the details with any follow-up mitigation measures taken in alleviating the situation; and

(d) given the absence of any government figures in evaluating the public health impact of air pollution, whether the Government has considered establishing a mechanism similar to the Hedley Environmental Index in assessing the public health impact of air pollution and publicizing the real-time information on the impact; if it has, of the details with the expected cost and manpower resources involved; if not, whether it has considered any ways besides the established measures in enhancing public awareness of the health impact of air pollution?



(a) In setting our new Air Quality Objectives (AQOs), we have made reference to the recommendations of the World Health Organisation (WHO) as well as the standards of other advanced places. When the WHO published its new Air Quality Guidelines (AQGs), it also reminded governments that they should consider their own local circumstances carefully before using the guidelines directly as legal standards. It also pointed out that the standards set in each country will vary according to specific approaches to balancing risks to health, technological feasibility, economic considerations and other political and social factors. In fact, WHO also recommends interim targets as incremental steps in a progressive reduction of air pollution in more polluted areas and to promote a shift from concentrations with acute, serious health consequences to concentrations that if achieved, would result in significant reductions in risks to health. Such progress towards the guideline values should be the objective of air quality management and health risk reduction in all areas.

The AQOs we are proposing have been drawn up in accordance with the above WHO guidelines .As far as we know, no country has fully adopted the WHO’s ultimate guidelines values as their statutory air quality standards. Apart from suspended particulates which are under strong regional influence, our new AQOs are on par with those of other advanced countries, such as the European Union (EU) and the United States (USA).We have adopted the WHO’s ultimate AQGs in their entirety for three of the seven major pollutants (i.e. nitrogen dioxide, carbon monoxide and lead) and in part for another pollutant (i.e. sulphur dioxide).

In addition, we will review every five years the feasibility of tightening the AQOs and formulate corresponding air quality improvement plans.

As for sulphur dioxide (SO2), the 10-minute limit in the proposed AQOs has already benchmarked against the AQG of WHO and the 24 hour-limit is same as that of EU (i.e. IT-1 of WHO), which is on a par with the standard currently adopted by advanced countries/economies. This has been reduced by more than 60 per cent comparing to the existing AQO value.

We note that our PM2.5 level has been under strong regional influence. The particulate matter emissions of Hong Kong and the Pearl River Delta region are in the proportion of 1:99.The particulate concentrations of Hong Kong are, therefore, under strong regional influence. While we and the Guangdong Provincial Government have already endeavoured to implement a number of measures to improve regional air quality, taking into account the regional influence, we would not able to update the air quality objectives for suspended particulates with just one go, but have to take a more practical approach. We propose the WHO IT-2 for respirable suspended particulates (PM10) be adopted. With fine suspended particulates (PM2.5) accounts for about 70 per cent of PM10 found in Hong Kong, we propose to benchmark its level at WHO IT-1.

(b) The new national standard for annual nitrogen dioxide (NO2) proposed by the Ministry of Environmental Protection is the same as ours and WHO’s ultimate AQG. In addition, the WHO currently has not established any 24-hour limit for NO2.Our practice is in line with other countries such as EU, USA and Australia.

(c) Following the introduction of the new AQOs, to obtain the environmental impact assessments approval, it will be necessary for designated projects to demonstrate their air quality impacts will meet the new legal standards. When updating the AQOs, the Government has also put forward a basket of 22 new air quality improvement measures to help reduce ambient air pollutant levels. At the same time, when the proposed objectives have become legal standards, designated projects have to implement adequate and appropriate mitigation measures in areas of design, construction and other operation standards, where necessary, to meet the legal requirements.

(d) Implementation of the proposed new AQOs and air quality improvement measures will help alleviate air pollution problems and bring about health benefits, including reduction of number of people admitting to hospitals due to asthma or other respiratory illnesses. According to the Consultant’s study report, implementation of the recommended Phase 1 emission control measures would lead to an anticipated benefit of about $1,228 million annually due to improvement in public health, which is significantly higher than the estimated annualized cost of about $596 million to be incurred by the society. The Consultant also estimated that some 4,200 hospital admissions could be avoided because of the improvement measures. In addition, the average life expectancy of the population would be increased by about one month or around 7,400 “life years” saved each year. In addition, the existing Air Pollution Index (API) has been providing a simple way of describing air pollution levels in Hong Kong. To tie in with the updating of the AQOs, we will correspondingly review and improve the existing API system.

Source: HKSAR Government

Air Pollution Fuels Hospital Visits in Hong Kong

Deteriorating air quality in Hong Kong is sending more people to hospital, says a new survey.

According to a pair of researchers at the Chinese University of Hong Kong, who examined day-to-day pollution levels and hospital visits over a six-year period, a rise in airborne pollutants in Hong Kong was associated with a rise in emergency hospital visits.

Published in Environmental Health Perspectives, the study, led by professor Yu Tak Sun Ignatius and Ph.D candidate Hong Qiu, comes as residents report increasing levels of frustration with the city’s pollution. In 2010, a survey found that one out of four Hong Kongers have considered leaving the city because of its air quality, up from one in five in 2008, according to local think-tank Civic Exchange. A few years ago, the director of the city’s Philharmonic Orchestra had his family do just that, packing them up and moving them to Wisconsin, citing frustration with the city’s lung-choking air.

A previous study by the University of Hong Kong this year suggested that air pollution was responsible for some 3,200 annual deaths in Hong Kong(pdf). Businesses consistently rank pollution as one of their top issues of concern in moving staff to Hong Kong, particularly those with young children.

Mr. Yu and Ms. Qiu found that every 10 micrograms per cubic meter daily increase in coarse airborne pollutant particles resulted in a 1% increase in emergency hospital admissions for respiratory disease, or an additional 830 hospital admissions.

The study controlled for other kinds of pollutants, including PM2.5, superfine air particles dozens of times thinner than a human hair, which Hong Kong and mainland China only began publicly monitoring earlier this year. While such superfine particles are the greatest source of concern for public health experts, because of how they can penetrate the body’s organs, the Hong Kong researchers also found that so-called “coarse” particles—including those between 2.5 and 10 micrometers in size—likewise “have a high impact on public health,” said Ms. Qiu.

“These coarse particles shouldn’t be ignored,” said Ms. Qiu, who says the city’s future air quality objectives should adopt standards that explicitly address such particles. “They can also cause cardiovascular and respiratory disease.” Even short-term exposure to heavy air pollution, experts say, can prompt heart failure, arrhythmias and stroke.
– Te-Ping Chen. Follow her on Twitter @tepingchen

Leung aide sees no need for third runway


City can’t cope with more visitors disrupting our daily lives, says former Observatory chief
Cheung Chi-fai
Jun 09, 2012

A former Observatory director and adviser to the incoming chief executive has questioned the need for a third runway and the scope of the environmental impact study proposed for the huge project.

Lam Chiu-ying, who helped incoming chief executive Leung Chun- ying develop his environmental platform, said the HK$130 billion project was not sustainable.

The city simply did not have the capacity to deal with more visitors, he said.

“Does the airport need to grow indefinitely? Can it? I don’t think it fits into our reality. The number of tourists visiting Hong Kong is approaching capacity. If we want to avoid our lives getting further disrupted, I don’t see any incentive for us to expand the airport.”

The extra runway is forecast to generate HK$900 billion in long-term economic benefits. But Lam believes it shouldn’t be built because it will trigger a string of negative chain reactions in the daily lives of Hongkongers.

Lam also questioned whether the Airport Authority would weigh the environmental impact carefully enough. The project calls for the reclamation of 650 hectares of sea north of the two existing runways.

Lam fears the reclamation will lead to irreversible changes in the flow of water between Tuen Mun and Lantau, degrading the water quality.

Lam’s comments, made on his personal blog, come just a few days before Monday’s deadline for public comments on the profile of the runway project.

The profile, which spells out the potential impact of its construction, is the first step in activating the statutory environmental impact assessment study process.

After that, the Environmental Protection Department will issue a study brief – a detailed list of guidelines on the scope and technical requirements of the study.

The department has already received 140 submissions since posting the profile on its website on May 29.

Friends of the Earth made its submission yesterday, demanding that the profile include studies of air pollutants including nitrogen dioxide and fine particulate matter.

The group also criticised the profile for omitting any mention of the potential health impacts of increased air, land and marine traffic on the more than 200,000 residents of Tung Chung new town.

The Clean Air Network shared those concerns. “Many important issues are not explored in depth in this profile, and that gives us a great deal of concern,” campaign manager Erica Chan said.

Lam is calling on the public to voice their concerns about the project.