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August 23rd, 2012:

Dr. William Suk, National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences on World Health Organization Report “Persistent Organic Pollutants: Impact on Child Health” -Scientific Knowledge Supports Worldwide Effort to Minimize POPs Exposure

Cancer Action News Network
Donald L. Hassig, Producer

Loving the Earth Environmental Revolution

Dr. William Suk, National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences on World Health Organization Report “Persistent Organic Pollutants: Impact on Child Health” -Scientific Knowledge Supports Worldwide Effort to Minimize POPs Exposure

Beginning in the first part of the 20th century, industrialized economies throughout the world have released into the environment a group of chemicals referred to collectively as persistent organic pollutants (POPs). These releases have gradually led to global food supply contamination. Evidence of serious harm resultant from POPs exposure has been accumulating in the scientific literature for several decades. In 2010, the World Health Organization (WHO) published a report titled, “Persistent Organic Pollutants: Impact on Child Health”. This WHO public health policy guidance document calls for a worldwide effort to minimize the exposures that children receive to POPs.

Dr. Suk provides background on the genesis of this report. He answers the highly important question, “What must be known about exposure to a chemical substance and disease outcome before the public health system decides that the substance constitutes a health hazard?” It is the existence of a large body of scientific knowledge describing serious damages to health that brings consensus among public health professionals that exposure to a substance or group of substances must be viewed as a health hazard. Such a body of scientific knowledge now exists for POPs.

I ask Dr. Suk what he thinks about prioritizing populations residing in the vicinity of POPs contaminated Superfund Sites for first efforts in POPs exposure minimization educational outreach by governmental public health entities. He states his agreement with this strategy. Dr. Suk goes on to express his belief that the WHO is the right agency for conducting this type of educational outreach.

Cancer Action NY is currently working with the National Center for Environmental Health and the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry sister agencies of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to develop POPs exposure minimization educational outreach to populations residing in the vicinity of POPs contaminated Superfund sites. We are making steady progress and look forward to beginning to create much increased awareness on the subject of POPs exposure minimization in populations at several Superfund sites, including: upper Hudson River Superfund site, GM Powertrain Superfund site and the Titawabassee River Superfund Site.

The effort to minimize the quantity of harm to human health that results from POPs contamination of the global environment is taking shape and Cancer Action NY is taking a leadership role in the United States. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention National Conversation Network is showing itself to be a wonderful conduit for this work.

The unedited interview is available at the URL found below.

Donald L. Hassig, Director
Cancer Action NY
Cancer Action News Network
P O Box 340
Colton, NY USA 13625

Critic’s elevation a good sign

SCMP Lai See 23 Aug 2012

Last week, we wrote that Christine Loh had accepted an invitation by C.Y. Leung to join his administration as undersecretary for the environment. We gather that she has weathered the steely glare of Beijing and an announcement is imminent, possibly today.

Her appointment, we understand, will be one of about four or five undersecretary positions that will be announced. As we indicated earlier, Loh’s appointment will give Leung’s administration, which is looking somewhat ragged at present, a welcome lift.

It is a signal that this government intends to do something serious about the environment, principally Hong Kong’s dirty air.

Donald Tsang Yam-kuen, for reasons best known to himself, chose to do nothing about the problem, which unsurprisingly is getting worse. Loh presumably has CY’s support in this, and it should go a long way to making the city a better place to live in.

This is surely no bad thing, and it remains a puzzle as to why Tsang was so reluctant to act.

Psst … cat’s out of the bag on that HK$130b runway

Jake van der Kamp
Aug 23, 2012

An interesting document from the Airport Authority crossed my desk the other day. It reveals a grubby little secret that third-runway boosters would love to keep dark.

It is dated July 12 and was written by the authority’s deputy director of projects, Kevin Poole. It makes perfectly clear that the real reason our airport is congested is that the airlines find it convenient to operate much smaller aircraft there than they did at the old Kai Tak airport.

It means all those mainland tourists who we thought were bringing us so much money are actually going to cost us HK$130 billion in the construction of a third runway. The airlines make more money by flying them in on smaller aircraft.

Mr Poole has a talent for expressing his thoughts succinctly. On the principle that no knife is so sharp as the one on which you cut yourself, I shall thus quote him directly:

“Regarding traffic forecasts, it has been noted the growth in passenger demand included in HKIA Master Plan 2030 (MP2030) exceeds that of the design capacity as listed in the 1992 New Airport Master Plan (NAMP) by about 10%.

“This has led some to believe that the airport may not truly be reaching its saturation point, and that the excess capacity for flight movements will be used predominantly for private jets.

“The discrepancy between the forecasts is mainly because many of the working assumptions adopted in the early 1990s were based on the operating environment of Kai Tak Airport, which was highly constrained and fully stretched.

“At the time it was natural for airlines to maximise each valuable slot by deploying the biggest aircraft possible. The 1992 NAMP therefore assumed that wide-bodied aircraft would comprise over 80% of aircraft movements, resulting in a high average passenger load forecast of more than 300 people per aircraft.

“The new airport at Chek Lap Kok provided more runway capacity, allowing airlines to increase their flight frequencies and service to secondary destinations. This has enabled HKIA to develop into an international and regional aviation hub but it also led to the deployment of more narrow-bodied aircraft (mostly less than 200 seats).

“Since 2000, the average passenger load per aircraft has decreased to about 190. In other words, it will take 437,000 aircraft movements instead of the 278,000 originally estimated in the NAMP to serve 87 million passenger trips.

“In addition, from 1997 to 2010 the percentage of wide-bodied freighters decreased from 84% to 67% in favour of medium-sized aircraft. Therefore, moving 8.9 million tonnes of cargo will take 108,000 aircraft movements instead of the 66,000 forecast by the NAMP.”

Quite a difference, isn’t it? We need 57 per cent more passenger aircraft movements in order to get the same number of passenger trips, and 64 per cent more cargo aircraft movements to move the same amount of cargo.

There is an old transport planners’ adage at work here – traffic expands to fill the space available to it. Our experience at Chek Lap Kok has proved it. Airlines are like stray cats. Feed a few hungry ones and you don’t get a few well-fed ones. You just get more hungry ones.

Now don’t get me wrong about this. If cargo operators take the view that having more space available at Chek Lap Kok allows them to bring in small feeder aircraft, that might otherwise use Guangdong or Shenzhen airports, fine, more power to them. Let commercial sense rule.

But for the life of me, I cannot understand why they should then expect the Hong Kong public purse to pay for their private benefit. That’s commercial sense, too, on our part as taxpayers. If the airlines want it, let them pay for it, particularly when it’s more a matter on their part of convenience than of real need.

I propose a test of just how much commercial sense it really makes for the airlines to use smaller aircraft. Let’s tell the Airport Authority to raise all the money it needs for a third runway off its own resources alone and make the airlines pay for it through higher landing fees.

It’s my guess that the airlines would very quickly find it convenient to revert to bigger aircraft and the congestion problem would be much less imminent than it now appears.

Meanwhile, my thanks to Mr Poole for putting down in black and white what was meant for whispers behind closed doors.