• Sat
  • Dec 20, 2014
  • Updated: 8:56am

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

I for one hope that our CE has made the proper apologies for allowing such a matter to cause such a kerfluffle and potentially offend our masters across the way. Who are the HK people seeking such sensitive and secret data that could harm Guangdong. People might think the is polluted. What? Everyone knows it is? Oh. Well if the Masters in China tell us that this data is super secret, then that is good enough for me. Hopefully the CE and Carrie can apologize fast and often enough that the masters' harmonious morning is not upset but this senseless media-created tempest in a teapot.
This country has more confidential information than any other countries because it has more things to hide from the people. It too has more traitors than any other countries because everyone is for himself.
We all breathe this same air and the reports were paid for with taxpayers' money. How could they not release the reports? What sensitive information - some kind of military secrets? Come on! This is a public health issue. Now the Hong Kong Government is regressing to hide public health information the way they do in the Mainland - what a crying shame!!!!
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.
Where's the wu mao brigade to defend these actions of the CCP (yes, I'll include the HK government in this broad definition)??
The West does not need to worry about China. We will destroy ourselves
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.
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)?
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
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.



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