Reply To: Hong Kong people vs Shek Kwu Chau Mega-Incinerator


Just sent to members of Advisory Council on the Environment; and to others inc Executive and Legislative councils.

Dear member of ACE:

As I believe you know, I am among people seeking to assemble an expert panel on alternatives to the incinerator and its artificial island beside Shek Kwu Chau. While tI am informed that it will not be possible to make a presentation to ACE, I submit the following preliminary information for your consideration.

A range of responses to the EIA outline why this project will be an environmental outrage:

– Significant environmental damage in a beautiful area earmarked for conservation and leisure tourism;

– Negative impacts including on porpoise that's globally Vulnerable to extinction;

– Increase in Hong Kong air pollution including toxic dioxins, heavy metals, fine particulates etc;

– Not at all an "integrated" plan;

– Will take a long time to implement.

[See attached joint statement: "HK People Oppose Plans for Shek Kwu Chau Mega-Incinerator", with signatories including 16 groups from across Hong Kong, and one in the US]

Plus, the proposed technology is old. There are alternatives.

Before rushing into giving the green light to the project, is it time for Hong Kong – including ACE – to pause, reflect, and ask, can we do a better job of treating Hong Kong's waste, and in the process safeguard rather than harm our environment?

ACE Treated as Rubber Stamp?

It has become evident to myself and others that there are several viable alternatives to simplistic, mass burn incineration.

Yet given AECOM has recently been awarded a consultancy contract for the development of the IWMF Phase 1, you may wish to consider: Does AECOM really have a strong interest in considering potential alternatives?

Should outside views, include from waste management experts, be sought?

– Indeed, given AECOM reporting on being awarded the contract even prior to this meeting, you might also ask if the government is simply treating ACE as a rubber stamp?

Is the 30 December meeting merely a charade in the government's eyes, or are your views and your vote of any value?

A Politicised Process

Though in 2002, planning of Hong Kong's waste strategy was clearly well intentioned – with waste separation and anaerobic digestion set to play key roles, it has since become politicised.

The Tsang Tsui site became off-limits for political reasons.

No valid reasons have been given for rejecting Green Island Cement's eco co-combustion incineration system, despite them running a successful pilot project with Hong Kong waste (unlike moving grate incineration).

Who decided there should be one or two 3000-tonne mega incinerators, receiving unsorted waste?

– surely not the same person who also aims for far more recycling in Hong Kong, plus separation of food waste etc.

The aims conflict, in ways that might please the author of Alice in Wonderland, yet should not be overlooked in Hong Kong.

Modern, Sophisticated Alternatives

"Toronto invests in green technology with biogas digesters"

"Airline to Launch Massive Biojet Fuel-from-Waste Project"

"Gasification Facility Given Go-Ahead in Tees Valley, UK"

"Advanced Plasma Power Featured in BBC Spotlight" [link takes you to page with video clip]

– These are among headlines you can readily find regarding current developments in waste treatment.

There are far more sophisticated – and integrated – systems being put in place for collecting, sorting and recycling waste.

Manchester and Toronto have major projects including anaerobic digestion, which can produce biofuels as well as electricity.

Plasma arc technologies are tried and tested, and now set to be launched for large-scale waste treatment.

As organic molecules are blasted apart (rather than burnt), this produces hydrogen and carbon monoxide – which can be used for power generation, and/or as building blocks for creating fuel, including jet-fuel.

There are plasma arc companies that are keenly interested in working with Hong Kong to help treat our waste – and create useful energy and/or fuel, along with jobs; and to do so far more cleanly than the rather basic bonfire style incineration that is being foisted upon Hong Kong. They can even be used for mining existing landfills.

Information Attached

Please find attached an EIA response from US-based Solena Fuels: this proposes plasma arc facilities to produce jet fuel from Hong Kong waste. Cathay Pacific is interested in buying the jet fuel.

Advanced Plasma Power, in the UK, is another company working on plasma systems – currently for waste to energy. After introductions via an opponent of the SKC incinerator – but supporter of plasma arc [which should not be sited in a remote place], Dr Lee Potts.of AECOM UK will visit APP on 12 January. Please see the enclosed APP brochure.

Tees Valley, in the northeast UK, is set to build a substantial waste to energy facility, using plasma arc technology from AlterNRG in the US. File on this here, too.

Also, to show anaerobic digestion of MSW can be highly sophisticated nowadays, I attach information from Enbasys, Austria. – a company I contacted a few days ago, but am yet to receive a reply from.

Plus see the info on Manchester's mechanical biological treatment and anaerobic digestion.

Well, too much info for you to read over the Christmas period I think!

But even should you glance through this material, you will see there is a strong case for Hong Kong reconsidering its waste strategy.

Showing the Way Forwards – or Backwards?

There are some moves towards holding a conference on waste treatment methods. Ideally, would involve experts who are working in this field. Could be of wide significance, including for China – where plasma arc tech is already being introduced.

I hope you will support moves to reconsider.

There is time: plasma arc facilities, say, could be built within two years – so could be in place before the artificial island could even be ready to start work on the mega incinerator, which by then could appear highly outdated, even ludicrous.

We might then answer the question: will Hong Kong help show the way forward for waste treatment; or the way backwards?

Best regards,

Dr Martin Williams