Have Shek Kwu Chau incinerator contracts been signed

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    Excellent letter in today's S China Morning Post:

    Landfills won't solve HK's waste problem

    I refer to the letter by Edmund Chen ("Incinerator seems sound option for HK", February 10).

    I agree that the expansion of landfills (to handle Hong Kong's waste) should be a non-starter, and that for recycling to be successful it must be made profitable.

    Mr Chen states confidently that the Environment Bureau is up to speed on technological developments in waste management in other places.

    However, it is abundantly clear from the barrage of letters that the Environmental Protection Department has not convinced the community that incineration is the only or best solution, or that Shek Kwu Chau is a suitable location for such facilities.

    Correspondents consistently show frustration at the department's intransigence in the face of information that Hong Kong is planning its waste disposal future on yesterday's technology, and that the location was selected not for wide practical reasons but for narrow political concerns.

    It appears that the department has overcommitted to a massive incineration project, and in true bureaucratic fashion doggedly refuses to review.

    Many environmentalists held high hopes that the current secretary for the environment and his deputy would be able to lead Hong Kong to "higher ground", but it seems that our bureaucracy is a quagmire for new ideas. Does Mr Chen realise that the "sound option" of incineration still creates pollutants, cannot handle hazardous waste, and much residue must still be sent to landfills?

    To the contrary, the more recent and advanced technology of plasma gasification does not hold these drawbacks.

    The co-combustion of municipal solid waste for cement production and electricity generation also eliminates the need for landfill extensions.

    Our environmental officials should come clean on why they are stubbornly shunning these better options which obviate landfills.

    Is it the case that contracts that are related to the incineration plant at Shek Kwu Chau have already been agreed and signed off?

    Your correspondent's idea to "build landfills on some outlying islands" is thoroughly rotten.

    K. Y. Leung, Shouson Hill


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