Committed to Mirs Bay pollution study
I REFER to the article 'Cleanup plan under threat' (South China Morning Post, January 10).
The article refers to a proposed study of Mirs Bay to be carried out jointly by the Guangdong and Hong Kong authorities and quotes me as saying it will not go ahead without the provision of additional resources. This is a serious misrepresentation of what I told your reporter.
Following successful collaboration in Deep Bay, the Hong Kong and Guangdong environmental authorities have agreed that Mirs Bay should be the next focus of attention. They have also agreed on the scope of the study.
It is envisaged the study will take place in at least two stages. The first stage will be an information-gathering exercise when existing environmental quality and pollution loads are quantified and major environmental issues and problems identified.
It will conclude with recommendations for environmental management plans and relevant work programmes.
The second stage will involve the implementation of any management plan and work programmes. The latter, in particular, are likely to be aimed at determining the amount of pollution the catchment can safely absorb and the formulation of strategies to ensure this loading is not exceeded.
As the joint monitoring studies of Deep Bay have now been completed, the resources that have been devoted to these can be transferred to the first stage of the Mirs Bay study.
However, it is not possible for a precise start date to be given at the moment because the two sides still need to agree upon the technical details of the joint work to be undertaken.
It is likely the second stage of the study will involve the development of detailed mathematical models of the Bay.
If this is so, it would have resource implications that both sides agree would need to be carefully considered.
Because the current study of the assimilative capacity of Deep Bay is being carried out by consultants rather than with in-house resources, it would not be possible simply to switch these resources from Deep Bay to Mirs Bay. New resources would have to be sought and justified in accordance with the priorities.
To summarise, both sides are committed to the proposed study, no additional resources are required for the first stage, and the precise start date will only be known when the technical details are finalised. If the first-stage recommendations include a recommendation to assess the assimilative capacity of Mirs Bay, additional resources, probably in the form of funds for a consultancy study, are likely to be necessary.
M J BROOM Principal Environmental Protection Officer for Director of Environmental Protection