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  • Aug 29, 2014
  • Updated: 5:19pm
NewsChina
POLLUTION

Hong Kong-funded pollution reports on Guangdong kept from public

Province blocks full disclosure of Hong Kong-funded pollution surveys

PUBLISHED : Monday, 14 July, 2014, 4:25am
UPDATED : Monday, 14 July, 2014, 7:12am

Two Hong Kong-funded air pollution studies in the Pearl River Delta region have not been fully disclosed to the public because Guangdong authorities object to releasing "confidential information" in them, the Hong Kong government has admitted.

The 2½ projects were commissioned in 2007 to study the formation of photochemical smog, or ozone pollution, and industrial sources of air pollution in the region.

Costing HK$10 million each, both studies were completed and filed to the commissioning body, the Environmental Protection Department, in June 2011.

But it was only in May this year that the department quietly uploaded the summary reports, of 11 and 15 pages, to its website.

The reports provided the scientific basis for setting new cross-border targets in emission cuts for next year and 2020, and for enhancing an air-quality monitoring network, a department spokesman said.

But Hong Kong had a binding agreement with Guangdong not to release the reports, which contained unspecified sensitive information, he said.

"The two studies were conducted within the region, which contained confidential information collected in the economic zone of [the Pearl River Delta]. Our Guangdong counterparts considered it inappropriate to disclose such information."

He said the province's role in the studies was only providing back-up and technical support, including "professional input" on selecting sample sites.

The embargo decision was in stark contrast to the complete disclosure in 2002 of an unprecedented regional air-quality report, including its technical annexes.

That report formed the basis on which the first cross-border emission-reduction targets were set.

A spokesman for the Guangdong Environmental Protection Bureau insisted the embargo was necessary as the reports had "some data about some enterprises. We have made a simplified version of what the public needs to know about it."

Video: How to deal with Hong Kong's smog

In Hong Kong, Democratic Party lawmaker Wu Chi-wai said there was no justification for holding back the reports, which were already three years old.

"Everything about the mainland is confidential or sensitive. If that's the case, we won't be able to achieve anything on anything involving the mainland," he said.

Wu said that without the full report, it would be difficult to monitor whether the government had made the right policy decisions or measures.

Green Power chief executive Dr Man Chi-sum said Hong Kong and Guangdong might be overreacting about the reports.

"We are not talking about emissions from a particular power plant that we want to hold responsible," he said. "We want more about the trends."

Man noted that as the mainland stepped up its fight against pollution, many cities that once saw air-quality data as highly confidential were now willing to reveal their monitoring data, even on a real-time basis.

The ozone study involved collecting samples of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) at 84 locations in the delta region via eight measurements from September 2008 to December 2009.

VOCs constitute a smog-inducing pollutant that reacts with nitrogen dioxides in the air to form ozone.

In the other study, on industrial pollution sources, data was gathered from more than 150 selected enterprises about their production, operational processes and airborne emissions.

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This article is now closed to comments

53a68f59-1f58-43d4-8551-74230a320969
I do not know the HK law, but in many European Union countries if anything is funded from public monies the contract cannot contain confidentail information or confidential annexes, or that confidential information cannot contradict with the public right and interest to know the content of the contract itself and the results the contract covers. It is quite strange that HK public paid 10 million for a study without any right to know the results. Taxpayers' monies should be managed in a better way.
chaz_hen
Come on...don't you know about the convenient "State Secret" clause of virtually everything that goes on in China (of which HK is part of)?
BabyMan
We have pounds of brown rust in our water system and called the water department. They are a complete joke. Follow the cases of animal cancer in HK. Watched our dogs die of gastric and mast cell tumors. Wouldn't feed that water to any creature certainly not our child. They are really criminal
r6b
HK leaders still need to account for the 30-40 % differential between high altitude and road-side pollution levels.
There remains a lot that local leaders can do if aggressively prodded.
kctony
If you think pollution is "confidential information", think about water.
iluvmycity
All comes down to China's red tape/corruption that hinders our own development.
What (is) once was a boon on our economy is now rapidly proving a curse on our livelihoods. I say HK is doomed.
chaz_hen
Where's the wu mao brigade to defend these actions of the CCP (yes, I'll include the HK government in this broad definition)??
KwunTongBypass
Pssst.. TOP SECRET!!
Southerly winds in Hong Kong = Clean air
Northerly winds = Dirty air
(where are my ten million bucks?)
captam
You missed one:
No winds in Hong Kong = even dirtier air in down-town streets = too many cars
dynamco
www.legco.gov.hk/yr13-14/english/subleg/brief/2_brf.pdf
“Marine vessels, including OGVs and local vessels, are the largest
emission source of local air pollutants. In 2011, local vessels accounted for
21% of sulphur dioxide (SO2), 32% of respirable suspended particulates (RSP)
and 57% of nitrogen oxides emitted from the marine sector. Reducing local
vessel emissions can improve air quality and better protect public health.
The improvement will be more evident around coastal areas”
www.scmp.com/news/article/1040949/hk-suffers-most-deaths-region-ship-pollution
www.cleartheair.org.hk/marine-pollution.php
//edition.cnn.com/2013/12/19/world/asia/hong-kongs-worsening-ship-pollution/
The journalist should do his homework & ask questions before flashing out his article

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