Clear The Air News Blog Rotating Header Image

August 19th, 2014:

Endangered dolphins deserve better than flawed airport report

Sunday, 17 August, 2014

“Dolphins v Development” has become the overarching focus of the controversial struggle raging over Chek Lap Kok airport’s proposed third runway: just how much of a threat the development poses to the habitat of Chinese white dolphins and other marine life and land-based organisms in the area.

As a group of University of Hong Kong ecology alumni, we applied our professional knowledge of environmental conservation to review the Airport Authority Hong Kong’s Third Runway Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) – in particular, the quality of the judgments about the ecological impacts on marine life and plants and animals on land.

Overall, we believe this report has several major technical deficiencies and failed to meet the standard required by the Technical Memorandum issued, under the Environmental Impact Assessment Ordinance, which aims to avoid, minimise and control the project’s adverse impacts on the environment.

It played down the need to conserve potentially important fish spawning and nursery water areas, and sensitive species, such as a soft coral found only in the western waters of Hong Kong, rare yellow seahorses and longtooth groupers.

Many assessment methods were inappropriate, based on limited scientific support. A minimal loss of the carrying capacity of dolphins’ habitats was predicted, but this was not supported by careful modelling. The estimated low impact on egrets was made without assessing the combined effects of multiple disturbances on birds. There were also questionable results, and mistakes in surveying the impact on fisheries.

The effectiveness of some proposed measures to mitigate the effect of the new runway was often exaggerated. It was expected dolphins will move away from the construction area but “return” once finished. Even assuming they will reappear, suggested rules for vessel speeds and volume will still be unsafe for them.

Also the new marine park, proposed as a major mitigation measure, will be designated only seven years after construction of the runway has begun. Yet the project proponent will have no jurisdiction over exactly where it will be located, or how it will be carried out. Similarly, there were misleading claims about new runway structures providing foraging grounds for birds because bird control will be enforced at the airport.

Owing to a lack of scientific support for the EIA report, and unreliable claims of the effectiveness of mitigation measures, it would be best for the Environmental Protection Department’s decision to err on the side of caution – and reject this report.

Alex Yeung, ecology alumni representative, University of Hong Kong

dynamco Aug 17th 2014 9:20am

MS Anissa WONG Sean Yee
Director of Environmental Protection
Permanent Secretary for the Environment
List of Government EIA reports rejected by her as follows:

All EIAs approved
EIA-077/2002 Permanent Aviation Fuel Facility for Hong Kong International Airport -Airport Authority Hong Kong The Court of Final Appeal ordered on 17 Jul 2006 that the decision of the Director made on 2 Aug 2002 approving the EIA report be quashed
During the tenure of Robert Law ,the EIA report which was rejected under the Ordinance in October 2000 was on the proposed Sheung Shui to Lok Ma Chau Spur Line project
Needless to say the spur line now exists

SHAM CITY: RENT A CROWD : Police estimate more than 110,00 marchers attended anti-Occupy Central rally

Sunday, 17 August, 2014

Jeffie Lam, Nectar Gan and Gloria Chan

This afternoon the streets between Causeway’s Bay’s Victoria Park and Chater Road in Central are once again filled with demonstrators. This time it’s the turn of the anti-Occupy Central movement. Police said that 111,800 marchers left the starting point in Victoria Park, larger than their estimate of 98,600 for the July 1 rally.

Accusations have been levelled at organisers that some participants have been strong-armed into attending, while other were promised a free lunch and time off work.

This morning march organisers, Alliance for Peace and Democracy, held a run through the city which they hoped would attract 10,000 participants. Police said fewer than 900 turned out.

Follow all this afternoon’s developments at

Watch: Pro-government marchers explain why they joined anti-Occupy Central rally [1]

6.34pm: That concludes our live blog on today’s anti-Occupy Central march. Organisers Robert Chow Yung and Holden Chow Ho-ding are in Chater Garden together. They say that they don’t know how many marchers attended today’s event or when the figures will be available.

Stick with for further coverage of today’s events. We will bring you official figures on the number of marchers and more reaction as soon as we get it. Thanks for reading the blog and goodbye for now.

6.33pm: Stanley Ng Chau-pei, president of the Federation of Trade Unions is at Chater Road. He says he feels very encouraged by the turnout today.

“I have been standing at Pacific Place to cheer marchers on from 2pm to 5:30pm,” he said. “The flow of people has been non-stop.”

Ng added that turnout was bigger than expected.

6.10pm: Organisers have announced that the march is officially finished. “Thank you for coming out today! You did a great job! Congratulations!” organisers tell the marchers as speakers blast out Queen’s We are the Champions.

One volunteer tells the Post‘s Gloria Chan that he believes the turnout was larger than organisers had expected, although no official figures are available yet.

5.49pm: Volunteer Jensen Lau (pictured) is struggling to stop thirsty marchers from taking bottles of water, which he said are reserved for workers and volunteers of the anti-Occupy Central movement.

Dozens of boxes of bottled water are piled up on Chater Road. Protesters who pass by are asking for a drink and some have managed to take a bottle from the opened boxes before volunteers could stop them.

5.30pm: Police are telling marchers to keep walking forwards past the march’s official finishing point at the HSBC Building on Queen’s Road in Central as they attempt to clear crowds.

“Keep your Hong Kong and China flags as souvenirs, don’t throw them away,” organisers tell marchers at the finishing point.

5.20pm: Parents bring their children to put red plastic flowers in “flower donation” boxes lined along Chater Road. The act is to symbolise giving flowers to peace and democracy.

However, some of the donation boxes still look a little empty:

5.05pm: A domestic helper (pictured) wearing a T-shirt with “The Federation of Fujian Association” written on the back is spotted on the march.

Although the woman appears not to understand either Cantonese or English, her employer explains that the helper accompanied her to the protest.

5.01pm: More on the egg-throwing: About a dozen counter-protesters, including member of People Power staged a rally at the mouth of Tang Lung Street in Causeway Bay, heckling anti-Occupy Central protestors marching by, who in turn booed the pro-democracy group as they spoke.

Tensions rose after an anti-Occupy protestor hurled a carton of eggs at the counter protestors. Police said no one was hurt and did not immediately arrest the man who threw the eggs. Police later added a third layer of metal barricades to separate the two groups

Speaking through a megaphone, the counter protestors compared the anti-Occupy protestors to those who took part in the 1967 leftist riots, which ended in scores injured and multiple deaths. They said they also supported non-violence and did not agree Occupy Central would turn violent.

“[Robert] Chow Yung has brainwashed all of you. You are selling out your conscience,” the counter protestors shouted.

5pm: Hundreds of protesters from the Hong Kong Federation of Fujian Associations have arrived at the marches end point in Central.
They are speaking in the Fujian dialect and many are reluctant to take any questions from reporters.

One woman said: “I am here to oppose Occupy Central as it will mess up Hong Kong … political reform? What is political reform?”

4.48pm: Wong Xu, 28, a media worker from the northeast Liaoning province is among the marchers. He said he came to Hong Kong to visit his friends and took the opportunity to join the march.

He has been to Hong Kong many times but this is the first time he has joined a protest. He said he had followed Hong Kong’s fight for democracy from the mainland and does not agree with Occupy Central because it is against the law. “Hong Kong needs to protect its universal suffrage in accordance with the constitution, and not through violent means,” he said.

4.45pm: “This is the most organised protest I have covered over the years,” writes Post reporter Jeffie Lam. “People are gathered in community groups – usually according to their hometowns in China – and dressed in united t-shirts and baseball caps. This is not something usually seem on the July 1 pro-democracy march.”

“While some elderlies are pointing their fingers at Occupy Central angrily, blasting the movement for destroying Hong Kong, there are more protesters who appear to be very reluctant to take questions from reporters. There is an employee from Ying Wah Construction Group saying he was not forced to join before I asked any question.”

4.30pm: Members of the the Voice of Loving Hong Kong cheer marchers on in Wan Chai, waving large flags of Hong Kong and China.

Jia you” they shout in Putonghua, which roughly translates as: “Try your best, you can do it!”

4.30pm: Anti-government activists mock Robert Chow Yung with an effigy of the Alliance For Peace and Democracy organiser.

“I oppose Occupy Central because others are opposing it too,” their slogan reads.

4.20pm: One woman taking part told the Post that she had only joined the march after direct pressure from her seniors at work. The woman, who did not want to be identified for fear of reprisals, said she was from Hong Kong but some of her colleagues had travelled from Shenzhen. “I would not have joined if there was no pressure,” she said, adding that she normally took part in Hong Kong’s July 1 demonstration.

4.14pm: Hong Kong government has released a statement on today’s “activities organised by community groups” following media requests for comment:

“The Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) Government fully respects the public’s right to take part in processions and their freedom of expression as enshrined in law.

“The HKSAR Government welcomes and supports all activities which take forward the implementation of universal suffrage for the Chief Executive election in 2017 in accordance with the law and opposes all unlawful acts which affect social order and the betterment of our people.

“The Chief Executive submitted on July 15 to the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress (NPCSC) his report on whether there was a need to amend the methods for selecting the Chief Executive of the HKSAR in 2017 and for forming the Legislative Council of the HKSAR in 2016. After the NPCSC has made its decision at the end of August, the HKSAR Government will in the next stage launch another round of public consultation.

“The HKSAR Government sincerely hopes that universal suffrage for the Chief Executive election will be implemented in 2017, so that over five million eligible voters will be able to elect the next CE by ‘one person, one vote’.”

4pm: Some minor confrontations have been reported between marchers and Occupy Central supporters. One marcher threw a tray of 24 eggs at members of People Power, who support the Occupy movement, but the eggs hit a woman police officer, according to reports.

In another incident a scuffle broke out after a demonstrator threw a water bottle. It is unclear whether any arrests have been made.

3.55pm: The march is rather a lacklustre affair, according to Post reporters on the ground. Marchers are plodding along, shielding themselves from the sun with umbrellas, while there is no chanting of slogans or creative costumes often seen during Hong Kong demonstrations. “Whistles blown half-heartedly can be heard from time to time but most people look indifferent. It seems like a march without a soul,” reports Nectar Gan.

Some 30 employees from the Ying Wah Construction Group refused to take questions from reporters. One man, who refused to be named said he was there to oppose Occupy Central, but said he had no opinion on the political reform debate.

3.41pm: More people taking part in the march have told journalists that they aren’t sure what they are marching for. One woman, who identified herself as a tourist, told Cable Television News: “I come here to play, to buy things”. Another, an 18-year-old chef from Shenzhen, told Agence France-Presse that he was “not very sure” why he was taking part, and had only attended because his friend had asked him to.

3.30pm: Victoria Park is almost empty now, apart from a lot of rubbish left behind. Anti-Occupy stickers, fake flowers handed out by organisers and water bottles litter the floor. Music with a thumping bassline is being pumped out to encourage the stragglers.

3.05pm: A number of South Asian men have joined the protest, dressed in the red shirts carrying the logo of the Federation of Hong Kong Shenzhen Association. One participant, who did not give his name, refused to say whether they were being paid to join the march. “We are tourists,” he said.

There seems to be some confusion in Victoria Park, with an increasing number of protesters not knowing where to go. Many are standing around unsure of what to do, with some accusing the organisers of being in disarray. Mr Liu, 64, said he had lost his retired friends. “The organisers are amateur and don’t have experience organising marches,” he blasted.

An official directing the crowd said: “Even I don’t know what’s happening. It’s all messed up.”

2.49pm: The city’s biggest pro-Beijing party, the Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong, has set up a booth at the junction of Hennessy Road and Stewart Road, handing out bottled waters to protesters. Executive councillor and lawmaker Starry Lee Wai-king is thanking protesters for joining the march.

“The turnout of the protest today has proven many ‘Hongkongers’ do not want to see occupy central to happen,” she told the Post.

Meanwhile in Victoria Park half the central lawn has been flooded by the Federation of Fujian Association. Members wearing orange polo shirts are holding up red banners carrying slogans such as “Let’s oppose Occupy Central together, universal suffrage will succeed”.

2.28pm: Many of the participants gathered at Victoria Park are elderly, with many coming from various groups and cities in mainland China. Some of the group leaders are chanting anti-Occupy slogans in Putonghua, while pro-Beijing lawmakers have stationed themselves at strategic points along the march route as ‘cheering teams’.

Police and protesters appear to be getting on famously – a marked contrast to relations during the July 1 demonstration. Some of the marchers are even thanking officers as they pass by.

2pm: Protester Hung Cho-sang of Pui Kiu Alumni Association, explains why he is taking part in the march. “Occupy Central harms Hong Kong economy. There will be no overseas investment if Hong Kong society is always in a mess and full of anger. Hong Kong needs to be peaceful and political reform should progress slowly.”

People are continuing to spill out of restaurants in Windsor House. One man, who gave his name only a Mr Che, said he had just finished a free lunch with fellow marchers and was now heading onto the streets. ‘Occupy Central can’t be peaceful, it must break the law. That’s why I’m against it,” he said.

1.56pm: All six of the sports pitches in Victoria Park are full, according to a policeman at the scene. Demonstrators are now being diverted to lawns in the centre of the park. Crowds of people wearing white T-shirts or orange polo shirts are flooding into the park from Tin Hau MTR.

1.50pm: Prior to the march restaurants in Causeway Bay and surrounding areas were packed with flocks of people representing different groups. The Hong Kong Hubei Fraternity and An Kwei Clans Association reserved around 30 tables in the Cheers Restaurant in Windsor House, while people formed a long queue in washrooms to change into their orange marching uniform.

The Hong Kong Hakka Association reserved the whole of King’s Cuisine on the 6/f and several more tables in Choi Fuk Toyal Banquet on the ninth floor. Some families are disappointed to be turned away from their Sunday dim sum lunch.

So who is footing the bill for these large-scale lunches?

1.38pm: The march has started. Medics have been called to reports of an elderly person fainting in the heat. Hong Kong Observatory has a hot weather warning in force and the temperature is currently just over 31 degrees Celsius.

1.30pm: A group aged in their 50s lining up in Hong Hum also sported the Federation of Hong Kong Shenzhen Association shirts. One woman told the Post she was joining the march for fun, as part of a day trip.

When asked whether she knew what she was marching for, she replied: “I don’t know, I’m just here to join the fun. I only know it’s for anti-Occupy Central.” When asked whether she knew what Occupy Central was, she shook her head.

1.25pm: Demonstrators this afternoon will be under close scrutiny, following accusations that a number of businesses have pressured employees to turn out on the streets, with inducements of time off work and the promise of free meals. Rumours suggest mainland tourists have also been mobilised to join the march. Organisers have rubbished the claims.

Earlier, members of the pro-establishment Federation of Hong Kong Shenzen Association squeezed onto a packed train wearing red polo shirts and red baseball caps. The man leading the group joked: “If you don’t all get off in Causeway Bay I will be fired.”

1.15pm: Good afternoon and welcome to‘s live coverage of this afternoon’s anti-Occupy Central protest. Organisers, the Alliance for Peace and Democracy, have predicted a turnout of 120,000 people. Demonstrators are currently gathering at Victoria Park, where they will march to Central. The actual turnout at the end of the day will be a hot topic as protest organisers and authorities often come up with wildly differing figures. This time, however, it will be fascinating to see whether the authorities play down the number of people of people on the streets.

Source URL (retrieved on Aug 17th 2014, 9:15pm):


14 attachmentsDownload all attachments View all images
311K View Download
149K View Download
506K View Download
196K View Download
176K View Download
179K View Download
146K View Download
141K View Download
190K View Download
175K View Download
134K View Download
206K View Download
146K View Download
156K View Download

Experts slam lack of novel ideas to protect white dolphins from third runway construction

Tuesday, 19 August, 2014

Cheung Chi-fai

Government advisers express exasperation at Chek Lap Kok officials’ lack of fresh thinking on protecting dolphins if third runway is built

Government environment advisers vented their frustration yesterday at the Airport Authority’s failure to come up with “out-of-the-box ideas” to protect the threatened Chinese white dolphin during construction of the proposed third runway.

They were speaking on the last of three days’ scrutiny of the environmental impact assessment study on the runway.

“We hear nothing new. You just repeat and repeat,” said Dr Hung Wing-tat, vice-chairman of the Advisory Council on the Environment subcommittee studying the report.

“You just can’t say let [the environmental impact] study pass first and we will see what we can do. Can you invest a little bit more? And don’t always just ask the government to do things.”

Subcommittee members had been unhappy at the last meeting over the lack of measures to compensate for plans to reclaim 650 hectares of prime habitat for the shrinking dolphin population – and it emerged as the key issue again yesterday.

The meeting was the last opportunity to provide new information to the subcommittee before it makes its recommendations to the council, which will decide next month whether the report should be endorsed and what conditions to attach.

Before Hung’s criticism – which was met by silence from airport officials – Professor Nora Tam Fung-yee also vented her frustration at the authority’s performance.

She criticised it for failing to respond to members’ previous call for “out-of-the-box ideas”, such as setting up another marine park farther from the works site in southwestern Lantau.

The authority proposes opening a 2,400 hectare marine park after the runway is finished, saying dolphins that leave the area during construction will return.

Tam also queried the effectiveness of a proposal to re-route the Skypier high-speed ferries to Macau and the Pearl River Delta and lower their speed during the construction.

The measure would re-route ferries travelling to the north of Lung Kwu Chau marine park – a vital dolphin sanctuary. The authority also proposes to freeze further growth until 2023 of its ferry business that carries 2.5 million transit air passengers a year.

Authority consultant Eric Ching Ming-kam said the diversion of the ferries and their lowered speed could benefit the dolphins by reducing underwater noise without significantly reducing passenger comfort.

But Tam said the increased journey times might increase the dolphins’ exposure to noise and demanded a proper assessment.

Another member, Gary Ades, listed a number of other options, including relocating the Skypier. But his idea was rejected by the authority as not practical.

Under present plans, the new 2,400-hectare marine park would connect the existing Sha Chau and Lung Kwu Chau Marine Park with the planned Brothers Islands marine park.

Another consultant, Dr Thomas Jefferson, said in June that some decrease in dolphins was to be expected during construction, “but the plan and hope” was that the large marine park would draw them back.

Detroit residents sue incinerator owner over ‘noxious odors and contaminants’

on Mon, Jul 28, 2014

A class-action lawsuit has been filed against the owner of Detroit’s municipal solid waste incinerator Monday, accusing the company of nuisance and gross negligence violations

According to the complaint filed by Detroit-based Liddle & Dubin P.C., “On occasions too numerous to list, Plaintiffs’ property including Plaintiffs’ neighborhood, residences and yards were physically invaded by noxious odors and contaminants

As a direct and proximate result of the Defendant’s’ negligence in operating and/or maintaining the facility, Plaintiffs’ property has been invaded by noxious odors.”

The eight-page complaint charges that local property values have dropped due to the incinerator’s presence, “and has interfered with Plaintiffs’ use and enjoyment of their property.” The lawsuit, filed in Wayne County Circuit Court, seeks a financial award in excess of $25,000 and all costs and attorney fees related to the case.

In an email, a spokesperson for the company says, “Detroit Renewable Power is reviewing the complaint filed today,” but declined further comment.

The suit comes weeks after a Metro Times’ cover story earlier this month found a growing number of odor complaints from nearby residents since Detroit Renewable Power LLC (DRP) took control of the facility in 2010. The investigation found a spike in citations from the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ) for noncompliance related to odor issues, and showed how the incinerator’s odor is the predominant issue for a local enforcement agency. Since last fall, MDEQ ramped up its enforcement and began to craft a consent judgement with DRP that would likely stipulate fines, and lay out a timeline for the company to follow to resolve the alleged odor, officials said.

Attorney Nick Coulson, one of the plaintiffs’ lawyers in the case, cited the recent Metro Times cover story as a factor that led to the suit.

“It appears the odors have worsened substantially in the past few years,” Coulson says in an email. “The recent Metro Times article brought to light increased odor complaints and violations. We believe those reflect not only worsening odor emissions, but also increased community concern.

“People are upset, and they want this problem to stop.”

The incinerator was constructed in 1986 by the city of Detroit, which issued $440 million in bonds to finance construction of the facility. Since its inception, the trash-burning machine has been a source of complaints. Soon after, then-Mayor Coleman Young sold it for $54 million to private investors, including tobacco giant Philip Morris.

By 2009, Detroit had spent north of $1.2 billion to retire the incinerator bonds. Vocal opponents called for the city to dump the plan, but the following year, the Greater Detroit Resource Recovery Authority — the quasi-public agency created in 1986 that’s responsible for overseeing disposal of the city’s municipal waste — passed a resolution obligating the city to continue sending trash to the incinerator until 2021. That’s when DRP stepped in.

The facility process as much as 3,300 tons of trash per week at temperatures higher than 2,300 degrees. Its furnaces create steam that’s purchased by DRP’s sister company Detroit Thermal to heat and cool more than 140 buildings between downtown and New Center. The company is permitted to receive as much as 20,000 tons of municipal solid waste per week, according to the state.

Consultant ‘has taken sides’ on waste charging

Thursday, 31 July, 2014

News›Hong Kong


Cheung Chi-fai

The Council for Sustainable Development and its consultant have been accused by green activists of jumping to a conclusion on the best means of charging for household waste disposal.

Activists said the council and a consultant appointed to gauge public views were favouring the easy option of charging per building instead of a fairer method of charging each household for what they actually dumped. But council chairman Bernard Chan rejected the claim, saying no decision could be made before interim results of a pilot scheme were released in September.

The row follows a meeting of council members and a group of advisers late last month.

A digest of the meeting released by the council secretariat said participants felt household and weight-based charging could not be achieved “in a single step” and building-based charging should be used.

Conservancy Association deputy chief executive Rico Wong Tze-kang, one of the advisers, said he was surprised by the summary as it ran contrary to the consultation findings. “It seems the consultant has taken sides already,” he said.

The council must find the most suitable charging method to be introduced by 2016 at the earliest. It is due to report later this year.

The household approach is supported by a majority of respondents to questionnaires in the consultation that ended earlier this year, according to the consultant’s analysis.

Green activists are strongly in favour of that approach as it offers direct incentives for each household to cut waste.

They also acknowledge it would be harder to enforce. But they say the building-based method – with charges shared equally – would not offer the same incentives.

Chan said his view was that residents and property management firms should decide what methods to adopt in each building. “There is no single plan that fits all,” he said, adding that there was a need to secure political support as lawmakers must approve the plan.

The council would meet on Monday to determine the level of the charge, Chan added. He believed it should not be too high, due to the risk of fly-tipping.

The Environmental Protection Department said the meeting digest summarised members’ views and did not reflect any conclusion.