Modern incinerators are used in cities where pollution levels have dropped

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 19 February, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 19 February, 2012, 12:00am


The letter by S. P. Li ('Green groups have remained silent on destructive effects of super-incinerator', January 29) on the planned incinerator in Hong Kong requires clarification.

The energy-from-waste plant is not dated technology. It is long-established technology but has developed and is now state-of-the-art in both combustion and emission control.

The plant in Hong Kong would not be the largest in the world. Plants in Singapore and Amsterdam are 50 per cent bigger.

As for pollution concerns, we all cause air pollution by breathing. The plant's emissions would be designed to be minimal and without serious environmental impact.

The incinerator in Macau, which I helped to design, has been operating without incident for 20 years. Plants similar to the one proposed for Hong Kong are operating in major cities such as London, Paris, Stockholm, and Copenhagen. These cities have seen recent improvements in air pollution levels.

Energy-from-waste plants destroy residual waste, generate largely renewable energy, and prevent the formation of methane from landfilled waste. Methane is a powerful greenhouse gas and contributes to global warming.

They do not cause ground or sea contamination.

What green groups should really be asking is why Hong Kong is planning only one plant when there is enough residual waste for at least six of them?

Why not use the current sea-based waste transport infrastructure and build plants on the three landfill sites, and at least two new plants with good road access? This plan would not require any sea bottom dredging. Also why is a remote island being selected where there will be no local use for the steam and electricity?

Will the plant be built to the tightest world standards and are the government's consultants experienced at building such plants? Green groups should also ask if emission controls will be put in place and the results made public.

As regards attracting tourists, this idea is not so far fetched. The iconic energy-from-waste plant in Vienna, is one of the city's top tourist attractions. I operated a plant in London (SELCHP) which attracted thousands of visitors each year.

Anyone interested should visit such a plant to learn the real facts rather than making outdated and scaremongering comments.

The Hong Kong scheme is not perfect but, with more involvement, could be turned into a much better plan.

Bill Prescott, London, England