Officials ignored consultants' advice | South China Morning Post
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Officials ignored consultants' advice

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 30 April, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 30 April, 2013, 5:35am

I refer to Martin Williams' letter ("Mega incinerator project being driven by vested interests", April 26).

Any fact-based analysis would conclude that any new waste-treatment technology should be located in Tsang Tsui near Tuen Mun, not Shek Kwu Chau. Locating a massive incinerator using a polluting sunset technology in Shek Kwu Chau represents the worst combination of technology choice and site selection.

The Environmental Protection Department has never presented the public with a comprehensive comparison of the two sites. The data it did present was biased, describing only the advantages of Shek Kwu Chau, without doing the same for Tsang Tsui. Any objective comparison clearly shows Tsang Tsui to be the better choice for environmental, economic, engineering and technical reasons.

Two consultants engaged by the department studied the feasibility of both sites. Even a layman can see from the consultants' reports that Tsang Tsui is the better site under five criteria: engineering, technical, economic, less ecological impact and more efficient land use. Only one factor favours Shek Kwu Chau: lower transportation cost. Both sites were rated the same under air quality, noise, landscape and hazard.

Construction of an incinerator in Tsang Tsui would cost 26 per cent less than in Shek Kwu Chau (September 2011 prices) and be completed two years earlier. Land reclamation, seabed dredging and cable laying to create the infrastructure in Shek Kwu Chau will impact fisheries and wildlife habitats. The Tsang Tsui site is ready in situ among existing waste-treatment facilities.

Tsang Tsui's location offers land and sea routes to transport waste to the incinerator and remove ash to the nearby landfill. This information was presented to the department in the consultants' reports but not shared with the public. The department belatedly introduced a new criterion, "balanced spatial distribution", for choosing Shek Kwu Chau. Since Tuen Mun already has waste-treatment facilities, officials felt they should be spread around the rest of Hong Kong.

This is precisely what Lau Wong-fat, Heung Yee Kuk chairman and Tuen Mun district councillor, said on January 30, 2008, the day after the consultants hired by the department, Camp, Dresser and McKee International, issued a report giving Tuen Mun the highest rating as an incinerator site.

Mr Lau was reported to have said that the Tuen Mun area already had a power plant and landfill. He argued that the government should pick another spot for the incinerator.

Four years later, the department picked Shek Kwu Chau.

Tom Yam, Lantau

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