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August, 2013:

No technical feasibility and reliability issues in Green Island Cement’s waste plan

Published on South China Morning Post (

Home > No technical feasibility and reliability issues in Green Island Cement’s waste plan

No technical feasibility and reliability issues in Green Island Cement’s waste plan

Friday, 30 August, 2013, 12:00am


I refer to the letter by Elvis W. K. Au, assistant director of environmental protection (“Cement plan not yet viable refuse solution [1]“, August 16).

Mr Au says the government has refused to consider Green Island Cement’s Eco-Co-Combustion proposal for the treatment of municipal solid waste because the company must first deal with “technical feasibility and reliability, environmental acceptability and planning issues”. I wish to clarify some of the points he raised.

Regarding technical feasibility and reliability, our Eco-Co-Combustion waste treatment process uses proven conventional technology, which can be either kiln-based or moving-grate-based. It just means integrating conventional technology with a cement plant. There are no technical feasibility and reliability problems.

On environmental acceptability, over the last decade we have completed more than 100 separate technical studies, and have set up a pilot plant to demonstrate the feasibility, environmental impact, and public acceptability of the proposal. One of the main objectives of our study was to verify the air emission results which, when scaled up, yielded no discernible impact on nearby villages. Also, our Eco-Co-Combustion proposal uses heat energy very efficiently and it has a very low residue to be sent to landfills.

With regard to the environmental impact assessment study, when it became clear in 2008 that, no matter what we did, the government would not consider our proposal, we ceased expenditure on the project. If we were given the chance to participate, we would carry out such an assessment promptly. As there is virtually no adverse environmental impact, we are confident that our assessment would be successful.

On planning issues, according to studies conducted by law firm Mayer Brown JSM and international planning, design and environmental firm EDAW, since Tap Shek Kok is an existing industrial site and the cement plant is already in operation, our Eco-Co-Combustion System does not face any land-zoning/planning issues as it is a cement-related activity. In fact, we received a letter from the Lands Department stating that the operation of the Eco-Co-Combustion System would not change the land use.

We believe that the Eco-Co-Combustion System is a good option for solving Hong Kong’s imminent waste problem. We hope the Environmental Protection Department will reconsider the benefits of our proposal and let us participate in the municipal-solid-waste-management tender process.

Don Johnston, executive director, Green Island Cement (Holdings) Limited




Ta Kwu Ling villagers blame landfill for ‘polluted’ stream

Saturday, 29 June, 2013, 12:00am

NewsHong Kong


Water in the Ta Kwu Ling stream is ‘black and muddy’ from contamination, residents say

In Ta Kwu Ling, the residents no longer let their children play in the stream that runs through their village, let alone drink from it.

They say the nearby landfill, which is northeast of Sheung Shui near the mainland border, is to blame for the contamination of their stream, which flows into the Ping Yuen River.

The pollution comes from trucks that drive through sewage as they enter and leave the landfill, the villagers say.

Sometimes the water is “black and muddy”, and is now used only for irrigation, they say.

The Ta Kwu Ling site, which opened in 1995, is one of three landfills the government wants to expand. Protests have already forced the government to shelve its Tseung Kwan O proposal, while the fate of the Tuen Mun expansion is yet to be decided. Residents there have also put up strong opposition.

But relatively few people live in Ta Kwu Ling, and the plan there has met with the least resistance.

Lau Tsan-hung, 42, has lived in the village since birth. He said they used to swim and fish in the stream. “But after they built a landfill next to us, the water quality started deteriorating,” he said. “Now, we don’t dare let our children play in it.”

Just a few households live in the village, some of them running small farms. Lau said they would let the water sit in a bucket for a few days before using it for their crops, so that all the residue would sink to the bottom.

“But we don’t know if eating the crops will have any adverse effect on our health,” he said.

Another villager, Lam Yuet-foon, 62, said the stream sometimes gave off a foul smell.

Principal environmental protection officer Lawrence Lau Ming-ching said the department took samples from the stream for testing every month, and the water quality had always been up to standard.

He visited the village yesterday with lawmakers Dr Fernando Cheung Chiu-hung and Frederick Fung Kin-kee.

Lau said sewage from the landfill was sent to a sewage treatment facility via another route, and that any murkiness in the water was unrelated to the landfill. He attributed the muddy colour to deposits of iron in the hills nearby.

Source URL (retrieved on Aug 30th 2013, 5:50am):

Second landfill leakage stokes talk of cover-up

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A holding lagoon at Ta Kwu Ling near the one that leaked contaminated leachate into nearby rivers last month. Photos: David Wong

South China Morning Post

Published on South China Morning Post (

Home > Second landfill leakage stokes talk of cover-up

Second landfill leakage stokes talk of cover-up

Thursday, 29 August, 2013, 9:42pm

NewsHong Kong


Olga Wong

Tuen Mun dump has also been releasing liquid waste, residents complain after environmental department admits problem at Ta Kwu Ling

Environmental authorities have drawn fire for covering up the scale of effluent leaks from landfills, after a top official admitted that seepage from the Ta Kwu Ling tip was not an isolated case.

The landfill in Tuen Mun was similarly plagued by the problem, assistant director David Wong Tak-wai of the Environmental Protection Department said yesterday.

But the department released a statement last night rejecting Wong’s admission.

The statement conflicted with evidence provided by residents in the area and fuelled speculation on the extent of the cover-up.

The controversy arose on Wednesday when the department disclosed the Ta Kwu Ling landfill had been leaking liquid waste that might contain a high level of ammonia into the Kong Yui Channel, which flows into the ecologically sensitive Deep Bay.

Both landfills are operated separately by two contractors that belong to the same parent company, Suez Environment.

Yesterday morning, a Tuen Mun resident said on radio that in July last year, the dump in her area was also found to be leaking. The incident polluted water in Ha Pak Nai, Yuen Long, she said.

Wong replied that the department had planned to prosecute contractor Sita Waste Services. “We obtained a water sample and were ready for prosecution. But the evidence was found to be insufficient after we sought legal advice from the chief justice.”

The Tuen Mun dump is said to have been leaking for a long time. Two residents of Ha Pak Nai backed up the complaint with their own experiences.

Cheng Wai-kwan said the leakage threatened his oyster farm near Deep Bay last July. “The crushed rubbish, together with the leachate, is often discharged into the sea whenever there’s torrential rain. This is almost a yearly affair.”

Another resident, To Sik-yu, presented a letter the department sent to him in July 2011 after he lodged a complaint. The department wrote that the impermeable layer at the base of the landfill was damaged. It said that on July 19, officers found the tip discharging muddy water and rubbish into a big nullah.

In its statement last night, the department sidestepped the claims, including Wong’s admission. It said investigations held last year found no leachate leak and the discharge was only a surface run-off due to heavy rain.

Contractor Far East Landfill Technologies reported the Ta Kwu Ling leak on July 28.

The department took a further month to disclose the matter.

Explaining the time lapse, it said that results of tests on water samples showing the pollutants had exceeded legal limits only came in on Friday last week.

It added that it might prosecute the contractor.

EMEP-EEA air pollutant emission inventory guidebook – 2013.pdf

Download PDF : 1. EMEP-EEA air pollutant emission inventory guidebook – 2013

Govt probes Ta Kwu Ling landfill leak

Govt probes Ta Kwu Ling landfill leak



The Ta Kwu Ling landfill. Photo: Damon Pang

The government has reported a leakage of sewage from the Ta Kwu Ling landfill – one month after the incident took place.

A temporary leachate lagoon was breached on the 27th of last month, leaking some sewage into the Kong Yiu Channel that flows ultimately into the Shenzhen River.

The Environmental Protection Department blamed excessive rainfall last month for the leak.

An assistant director, David Wong, says a water sample taken earlier this month from the channel had exceeded the legal limit for pollutants.

Mr Wong didn’t explain why the government failed to make public the leakage earlier, only saying that lab results confirming the water samples had exceeded legal limits were returned last Friday.

He insisted the water in the affected areas is not drinking water for villagers, but officials had to inform several vegetable farms nearby to stop using the water for irrigation.


Download PDF : Legcoflightabuse

Incineration Versus Recycling: In Europe, A Debate Over Trash

28 AUG 2013: REPORT

Incineration Versus Recycling:
In Europe, A Debate Over Trash

Increasingly common in Europe, municipal “waste-to-energy” incinerators are being touted as a green trash-disposal alternative. But critics contend that these large-scale incinerators tend to discourage recycling and lead to greater waste.

by nate seltenrich

For communities short on landfill space, “waste-to-energy” incineration sounds like a bulletproof solution: Recycle all you can, and turn the rest into heat or electricity. That’s how it’s been regarded in much of Europe, where nearly a quarter of all municipal solid waste is burned in 450 incinerators, and increasingly in the United States, where dozens of cities and towns are considering new, cutting-edge plants.

But leaders of the international zero-waste movement, which seeks to reuse all products and send nothing to landfills or incinerators, say incineration falls short on the energy front and actually encourages waste. Many “zero

Waste incinerator in Germany

Norbert Nagel/Wikimedia Commons

A waste-to-energy incinerator in Hesse, Germany.

wasters” — including groups such asZero Waste Europe and the Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives, or GAIA — have become ardent opponents of the technology, contending that proponents have co-opted the carefully crafted zero-waste label by suggesting that burning to produce energy isn’t actually wasting. In Europe, where incineration capacity continues to grow despite already exceeding the trash supply in some countries, the showdown goes beyond semantics to the heart of the meaning of sustainability.

While the world certainly has no shortage of it, trash is not renewable — not in the way that sunlight, wind, and geothermal heat are. Producing goods from virgin, finite resources requires energy — lots of it. Once the goods become trash, zero-waste advocates say, burning them in an incinerator destroys those resources for good.

Incinerators can provide heat for municipal heating systems or steam for electricity, recovering some of the energy used to produce their fuel. But even given the environmental costs of recycling, which include

Waste-to-energy advocates say the recycle vs. incinerate comparison is a false choice – that the two can coexist.

transporting and processing the material, zero wasters contend that it makes far more sense to recycle than to incinerate.

The precise energy savings for any given waste stream depends on its composition, according to Jeffrey Morris, an economist and environmental consultant with Sound Resource Management Group Inc. in Olympia, Washington. “But it would be a surprising situation to find a waste stream that it would be more beneficial to burn rather than to source-separate and recycle,” says Morris, who did a study in 1995 — still widely cited by recycling advocates — which found that recycling most materials from municipal solid waste saves on average three to five times more energy than does burning them for electricity.

These days, the waste-to-energy debate is particularly active in Europe, where government incentives and subsidies have encouraged the construction of incinerators. Waste-to-energy supporters contend that the recycle-versus-incinerate comparison represents a false choice — that the two can coexist. “We see waste-to-energy continuing to have a role to play in an integrated approach to waste management, providing hygienic treatment of the remaining waste that is not suitable for sustainable recycling, and at the same time generating energy from it, rather than it being sent to a landfill,” Ella Stengler, managing director of theConfederation of European Waste-to-Energy Plants, wrote in an email. “Recycling and waste-to-energy are complementary to achieve lower landfill rates.”

As it turns out, countries with the highest rates of garbage incineration — Denmark, Norway, and Sweden, for example, all incinerate at least 50 percent of their waste — also tend to have high rates of recycling and composting of organic materials and food waste. But zero-wasters argue that were it not for large-scale incineration, these environmentally

Zero-waste advocates say a major problem is the long-term contracts that waste-to-energy plants are locked into.

conscious countries would have even higher rates of recycling. Germany, for example, incinerates 37 percent of its waste and recycles 45 percent — a considerably better recycling rate than the 30-plus percent of Scandinavian countries.

There’s no doubt that dumping untreated municipal solid waste in the landfills common in eastern and southern Europe, where incineration rates lag far behind those of northern Europe, poses significant environmental problems. These include the leaching of toxic chemicals into groundwater, an increasingly urgent shortage of space, and the release of methane — a potent greenhouse gas — into the atmosphere. (In the United States, more than half of all waste is dumped in landfills, and about 12 percent burned, of which only a portion is used to produce energy.) According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, landfills are the third-largest source of methane in the United States, behind industry and agriculture. Such environmental impacts are the reason why many European countries have instituted landfill bans in recent decades, contributing to the rapid expansion of incineration and waste-to-energy technology.

Zero-wasters say that a major problem with incineration is the long-term contracts that waste-to-energy plants sign with the cities that supply them with trash. Incinerators are extremely expensive to build — large, modern facilities in Europe cost $150 million to $230 million — and to make a profit and repay investors, incinerator operators need a guaranteed stream of waste. The operators sign contracts with municipalities to provide a certain volume of waste over a long period of time, often 20 or 30 years, effectively committing municipalities to generating a certain amount of waste. Zero-waste advocates say this reduces the incentive to recycle more and waste less, which exists with landfills, where tipping fees can be high.

With incineration, said Dominic Hogg, chairman of UK-based waste-management consulting firm Eunomia, “the financial logic for engaging in further recycling is lost.”

Hege Rooth Olbergsveen, a senior adviser in Norway’s Waste Recovery and Hazardous Waste department and a proponent of waste-to-energy, acknowledges that the economics of incineration can impair recycling efforts.

“It is in many cases more expensive to collect and sort out waste for material recycling than just to collect it as residual waste and send it to energy recovery,” she wrote in an email. “Some municipalities introduce

In many European countries, public subsidies support the expansion of incineration capacity.

only cost-effective waste solutions, while other municipalities have strong political will to introduce environmental measures and collect more waste for recycling.”

German zero-waste advocate Hartmut Hoffmann, head ofFriends of the Earth Germany’s waste working group, said he’s seen such an effect in Bavaria. In and around the towns of Schwandorf, Coburg, and Burgkirchen, each of which contains an incinerator, some waste authorities have openly refused to separate organic waste for composting, he said, instead incinerating the material at a lower cost. “For us, this refusal is good proof that the existence of incineration plants can hinder recycling,” Hoffmann said.

In Flanders, Belgium, an effort to keep a lid on incinerator contracts has led nearer to zero waste, said Joan Marc Simon, executive director of Zero Waste Europe and European regional coordinator for GAIA. Since the early 1990s, when recycling rates were relatively low, the local waste authority in Flanders has decided not to increase incineration beyond roughly 25 percent, Simon said. As a result, combined recycling and composting rates now exceed 75 percent, GAIA says. “They stabilized and even reduced waste generation when they capped incineration,” Simon said.

Without incineration, he believes, most European countries could improve current recycling rates of 20 or 30 percent to 80 percent within six months. Hogg agreed, saying that rates of 70 percent should be “easy” to attain. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, which calculates recycling and composting together, puts the current U.S. rate at 35 percent, compared to a combined European Union figure of 40 percent. Many of the newer

Russian incinerator protesters


Russian youths protest plans for building a Moscow incinerator in 2009.

members of the EU, mainly from Eastern Europe, have few if any waste-to-energy incinerators, recycle very little, and landfill 75 percent or more of their trash.

Except for pockets like Flanders, Simon believes that the major mistake Europe’s leading incinerator countries have made is committing too much trash to incineration too soon by instituting landfill bans. “Back then nobody knew or expected it would be possible to achieve the current recycling rates,” he said. “As they rolled out recycling they also planned incineration capacity. This trend hit the wall when recycling started competing with incineration for the available waste. In this situation some countries decided to give way to incineration and either import waste to burn or burn recyclables.”

Plastics are particularly attractive for burning, as they’re made with petroleum and generate more energy when incinerated than almost any other material. “Plastic is a good fuel, ” said Pål Mårtensson, a zero-waste advocate in Gothenburg, Sweden. “So they don’t bother that much to sort it out [for recycling].”

Burning plastic is also known to release harmful dioxins into the air. Waste-to-energy proponents say state-of-the-art plants filter out such toxic air pollution, but opponents say even the best plants do not filter out all toxics. This week, the Scottish Environmental Protection Agency revoked

Incineration remains profitable for facilities accepting waste shipped from eastern and southern Europe.

the operating license of a waste-to-energy incinerator in Dumfries after a large fire, saying the operator had failed to recover energy efficiently and had not met the requirements of its operating permit.

Despite EU directives calling for member states to both end the burning of all recyclable materials and achieve recycling rates of 50 percent (the current average is 25 percent) by 2020, public subsidies support the expansion of incineration capacity in many European countries.

Waste importers Sweden (with 31 plants as of 2011), Germany (72 plants), the Netherlands (12), and Denmark (29) continue to approve, finance, and build new waste-to-energy plants even though capacity exceeds domestic waste volumes. The United Kingdom (24 plants) is expected to reach capacity by 2018, according to a June report by Eunomia. Still, incineration remains profitable for facilities accepting waste that is shipped hundreds of miles from eastern and southern Europe.

Malcolm Williams, a director of the UK Zero Waste Alliance, is concerned that increased incineration capacity may lead Europe to miss what he deems are already modest waste-reduction targets for 2020. Even 90 percent recycling should be attainable, he contends. “It’s just a myth that recycling is a difficult thing to do,” said Williams. “So why on earth is anybody planning anything that is going to burn or bury more than 10 percent of the waste we’re producing?

Hong Kong evidence crucial to first US e-waste conviction

Wednesday, 28 August, 2013, 12:00am

NewsHong Kong


Cheung Chi-fai

City handed over evidence about intercepted loads, leading to first success against recycler

Hong Kong played a key role in the United States’ first successful conviction in December of a recycling company for smuggling hazardous electronic waste, the environment watchdog says. Environmental Protection Department said it supplied evidence to the US authorities after the interception of seven containers loaded with hundreds of cathode ray tubes in Hong Kong in 2008, which helped to convict Executive Recycling and its executives.

Acting principal environmental protection officer Kelly Yung Kin-ki said the evidence included invoices, photos and cargo inspection reports.

The information was handed over last year after a request from the US.

In an unprecedented move, a department officer also testified before a Hong Kong judge in the presence of US officers, with the evidence broadcast live in the US court.

Colorado-based firm Executive Recycling was found to have falsely claimed the electronic waste from businesses and the government would be handled locally. Instead, it shipped the waste overseas, with some of it ending up on the mainland.

“Executive Recycling appeared as the exporter of record in over 300 exports from the United States between 2005 and 2008,” the US Attorney’s Office for the District of Colorado said.

“Approximately 160 of these exported cargo containers contained more than 100,000 CRTs.”

The company and executives were convicted in December but sentences were handed down only last month.

The firm was fined US$4.5 million and its owner and chief executive, Brandon Richter, was jailed for 2-1/2 years.

In Hong Kong, six consignees of the waste were fined up to HK$54,000 by local courts in 2008.

A report by a research arm of the United Nations said in April that China was believed to be the world’s largest importer of e-waste.

In the Guangdong town of Guiyu – sometimes dubbed the world’s electronic waste dump – it was estimated in early 2000 that more than one million tonnes of such waste was smuggled in for dismantling by the most primitive means, causing major health and environmental problems.

Yung said that since the high-profile case, the number of intercepted illegal shipments from the US had slid from 62 in 2008 to three last year.

“We won’t speculate on the reasons behind the drastic fall but we believe that the stringent enforcement, as in this case, has conveyed to the others a clear deterrent message,” he said.

Yung did not reveal how the department got the information to intercept the shipments but admitted it had noted reports from a TV programme in the US and from a green group about the company’s malpractices.

Scotland’s dirtiest waste incinerator to be barred from operating

27 August 2013

The operating licence for Scotland’s dirtiest waste incinerator is to be revoked on 23 September, the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (Sepa) has announced.

Scotgen’s ailing energy-from-waste plant in Dumfries, which has breached pollution limits hundreds of times and recently suffered a major fire, is now almost certain to close. The company recently told the Court of Session that it was planning to go into administration.

Sepa’s highly unusual move follows Scotgen’s failure to comply with an legal enforcement notice requiring 800 tonnes of partially burnt waste to be removed from the plant so that it didn’t stink and attract rats.

According to Sepa, the waste plant was guilty of “persistent non-compliance with the requirements of the permit.” It had also failed to maintain enough resources to pay for cleaning up the mess it had made, and had failed in its main aim of recovering energy efficiently.

Ian Conroy, Sepa’s technical support manager in the southwest, pointed out that the Scotgen plant had not been able to demonstrate that it could abide by the rules meant to protect the environment.

“The facility started operations more than four years ago, and in that time has never achieved a level of compliance which would give Sepa any degree of confidence that future operation would be any different,” he said.

“The facility has consistently failed to meet any reasonable expectation of environmental performance and the predicted level of energy recovery at approximately 3% is particularly disappointing and unsatisfactory. Sepa has taken this serious and unusual action of revoking the permit following careful consideration and assessment of the regulatory options available.”

The revocation notice was issued on 23 August, but couldn’t be disclosed until Sepa was certain that it had been received by Scotgen. The company is entitled to appeal to Scottish ministers, which could delay closure.

This story was also run by the BBC.