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Planned incinerator would have damaged environment


Apr 26, 2012

The Environmental Protection Department must be feeling disappointed that its plans for a super-incinerator on Shek Kwu Chau have now been put on hold (“Bureau ditches HK$15b incinerator funding bid”, April 21). However, the department’s arguments have been flawed all along.

It refused to consider the more modern plasma arc technology, with almost zero emissions. It also completely missed out on one of the major benefits of any incinerator – using the energy generated to produce electricity and hot water for the local community, something that the location on Shek Kwu Chau negated.

It ignored the fact that the pollution caused by transporting rubbish to Shek Kwu Chau, and the remaining 14 per cent of toxic sludge back to landfills, would have neutralised any environmental advantage brought about by its remote location.

Department officials ignored the obvious cost and environmental benefits (less transportation equals less pollution) of utilising the already besmirched Tsang Tsui ash lagoons site.

Most shockingly of all, they completely failed to see what was wrong with placing a massive industrial facility on an unspoilt island, in an area of untouched pristine natural beauty. Once it is destroyed, it is gone forever.

In all the years of planning for this incinerator, there has been no meaningful attempt to force households to separate their waste and recycle, now standard practices in Europe and in Japan, Korea and Taiwan.

Other countries have been able to achieve substantial reductions in the amount of household waste generated and this drastically reduced the need for an incinerator.

There is no glass recycling in Hong Kong, apart from a few tiny operations. Also, no effort has been made to produce a meaningful air quality index, or cut air pollution on our streets, with the exception of introducing liquefied petroleum gas taxis.

If you can ask for HK$14 billion for one incinerator, why not come up with a concrete plan to spend public money on sponsoring the replacement of all the old polluting vehicles in Hong Kong? Or how about introducing electronic road pricing to get private cars off the roads, and pay for the replacement of old vehicles?

Sorry, Environmental Protection Department, if you want the Hong Kong people to believe that you are really committed to protection of the environment, then you are going to have to step up your game.

Bert Young, Chai Wan

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