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From: Tom Hope for No To SKC Incinerator Campaign < This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. >

Date: 4 May 2013 10:53

This email has 2 purposes:  - to update you on the SKC incinerator JR (by telling you there's no significant update)  - to let you know about a Public Forum on Tuesday next week (7 May) at the HK Convention & Exhibition Centre from 5-7pm at which you the public are invited to 'participate, actively deliberate, understand the current status of thermal technologies [for waste management] and appraise yourself on the applicability of these technologies to Hong Kong'.  Well, that's what the blurb says.

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MORE ON THE PUBLIC FORUM

Admission is free of charge, on a first come first serve basis.  It takes place in Room S421 at the HK Convention & Exhibition Centre in Harbour Road, Wanchai. From 5-7pm, Tuesday 7 May 2013.

 

Here's what the rest of the blurb says: 'Thermal treatment technology is gaining momentum around the world in order to meet the challenges in the disposal of ever-increasing volumes of municipal solid waste (MSW) simultaneously producing energy.  Despite the wide application of combustion-based treatment technologies, still the acceptance of these technologies by the public is a major factor of concern.  This public forum focuses on revealing the myths & facts, pros & cons, developments in pollution abatement systems and the current status of different thermal technologies.  Expert panelists will deliver short presentations and open for discussion with participants.'

There are 5 'experts' on the panel.  Even if they keep their speeches to 10 minutes each, that will leave barely 1 hour for 'open discussion'. But 'open discussion' is definitely what's promised.

So who are the experts?

Well, top of the list is Mr Elvis Au, assistant director to HK's Environment Protection Department, who is championing the mass burn incinerator (sorry, Integrated Waste Management Facility) on Shek Kwu Chau.

Also on the panel is Dr Lee Potts of AECOM.  Dr Potts wrote the technical section for the EIA which approved the mass burn incinerator for Shek Kwu Chau.

There's Mr Peter Simoes, the technical director for Afval Energie Bedrijf in Holland.  Afval operates a very large incinerator in Holland: see http://ipetitions.us4.list-manage.com/track/click?u=c5c0d97bafca87481521cc451&id=d40db248d3&e=3865f7267a.

Then there's Prof. Umberto Arena of the Second University in Naples who specializes in industrial pollution control: see http://ipetitions.us4.list-manage1.com/track/click?u=c5c0d97bafca87481521cc451&id=52c12139b4&e=3865f7267a. He specializes in how to make incinerators safer.

And there's Prof. Nickolas Themelis of New York's Colombia University.  Unlike the other panelists, he seems to have expertise in thermal technologies other than incineration: see http://ipetitions.us4.list-manage.com/track/click?u=c5c0d97bafca87481521cc451&id=5eee34bc64&e=3865f7267a.

So there's one out of 5 experts who might not be saying that incineration is a wonderfully efficient and safe technology and absolutely right for Hong Kong.  Which is better than none, I guess.

The forum will be chaired by Professor Jonathan Wong of HK Baptist University and Sino Forest Research Centre, one of the 'experts' who supported the SKC incinerator proposal last April when Legco's Advisory Panel voted against it. His apparent sphere of interest and expertise seems to be on general waste management rather than incineration or other thermal technologies: see http://ipetitions.us4.list-manage.com/track/click?u=c5c0d97bafca87481521cc451&id=645eb87fab&e=3865f7267a.

Why tell you all this?  Because if you don't turn up and make your views known at this 'public forum' (which has been mentioned in SCMP's Lai See once or twice but hasn't exactly hit the headlines otherwise) it will go down in EPD statistics as one more example of how HK Government has consulted the public and helped them to a greater acceptance of 'combustion-based treatment technologies' (a long-winded way of saying 'incineration').

If you can attend, you might like to consider raising one of the following questions to Mr Elvis Au:

- why have you done nothing in the last year to take forward the offer made by Advanced Plasma Power (an offer made in March 2012 to the Legco Environment Advisory Panel as well as to EPD) to build a pilot gas plasma plant processing 400 tonnes per day of MSW at zero cost to HKG to be operational by 2015, by which to demonstrate the viability of this technology to process MSW into energy at more than twice the efficiency of mass burn incineration, with negligible emissions, and with no toxic ash or other byproduct needing to go to landfill?

- why do you want to spend US$2billion to build (at a further US$45 million annual ongoing operational cost - EPD's own figures) on a mass burn incinerator processing only 3,000 tonnes MSW per day which takes 7 years to build when for the same amount of money Hong Kong could within 4 years (allowing for an EIA and public tender) be processing 9,000 tonnes MSW per day using gas plasma facilities located at each of the 3 existing landfill sites?

- why has EPD still done nothing to implement waste charging to reduce the flow of MSW (which for cities such as Tokyo and Taipei has halved the annual volumes of MSW within a couple of years) after its public consultation on waste charging closed in April 2012?

- why does the EPD not implement the requisite territory-wide infrastructure (bins, collection systems and personnel) for the separation of organic and inorganic waste (which would reduce the amount of MSW requiring thermal or other special treatment by 70%)?

Total annual MSW currently going to landfill was estimated by EPD last year at 13,500 tonnes per day.  Assuming waste charging, separation of organic and inorganic waste and implementation of gas plasma facilities at each existing landfill, it needn't be more than a few years before each of HK's landfills are being reclaimed by back-mining their contents for energy (something which is already happening in Europe) while the organic waste is converted into valuable fertiliser, all of which could be run at a steady profit and without any significant health risk.

Well, that's what I think, anyway!

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JR FOR SKC INCINERATOR UPDATE:

When I last wrote at Christmas, the Judicial Review proceedings were one month gone, with the judge yet to give his ruling.

And that's how things are still, more than 5 months after the JR proceedings closed (on 15 November).  In another fortnight, it will be 6 months.  The judge must have a lot of other stuff on his plate.  Or be finding this particular case unusually hard to digest.

Whatever the judge eventually decides, there is likely to be an appeal against his decision, so these proceedings are unlikely to be concluded until  2014 at the earliest.

Whilst the JR is running, it seems unlikely Hong Kong’s administration will seek to re-introduce the Shek Kwu Chau incinerator proposal.

However, the campaign is far from won until the executive declares an alternative policy which it has yet to do.  And next week's public forum indicates that EPD has every intention to press on with the SKC incinerator project as and when it can.

Even if the JR overturns (for failure to comply with essential requirements) the Environmental Impact Assessment which approved an incinerator for SKC (and therefore also overturns the Town Planning Board decision, based on the EIA, to approve the Outline Zoning Plan for SKC to include an incinerator), the government can carry out a further EIA which does comply with essential requirements, and it can re-affirm the Outline Zoning Plan in ways which unambiguously show there has been a change of government policy towards the conservation status of islands offshore South Lantau.

It is worth noting also that Shenzhen, which already operates 7 incinerators with capacity to process 4,875 tonnes of Municipal Solid Waste per day, plans by 2015 to have an additional 3 incinerators, processing up to 6,300 tonnes per day – bringing Shenzhen’s total incinerator capacity to 11,175 tonnes per day.

So, whatever the outcome of the current SKC incinerator proposal, there is a broader cross-border battle to be fought to clear Hong Kong’s air for the future.

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Best wishes,

Tom