Unhappy landing for coral reef plan

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 09 April, 1996, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 09 April, 1996, 12:00am

An ambitious scheme by the World Wide Fund for Nature to create an artificial coral reef from the debris of a crashed aircraft has been abandoned because too much work is needed.

Instead, the remains of the Lockheed L-100 Hercules cargo aircraft, which crashed into the harbour in September 1994, killing six crew, have been dumped in a landfill.

The fund had planned to use the cockpit, tail section and wing of the aircraft to create a reef off Basalt Island in eastern Hong Kong waters.

Coral would have attached itself to the aluminium, attracting other marine life which would have used the aircraft's cavities as spawning and feeding grounds. Divers and marine biologists could then have monitored the progress of development.

But the idea was scrapped because the fund did not have the resources to remove hydraulic lines, wiring and other equipment to make the wreck safe.

The fund's senior conservation officer, Jo Ruxton, said that when staff carried out a proper inspection of the wreck they realised the extent of work involved.

The reef idea had received support from the aircraft's owner, Pelita Air Services, the Environmental Protection Department and other officials.

'A lot of people offered to help, including Hong Kong Salvage & Towage, and the Government was sympathetic, but it was too big a job for the deadline that was imposed,' she said.

The wreckage was dumped, rather than sold to a scrap dealer for recycling because Pelita did not want the parts being re-used as spares.