Obnoxious tunnel fumes

ON October 25, the South China Morning Post published a response from E.Y.C. Ngan, General Manager of Tate's Cairn Tunnel Company, to a letter from Ng Ka-fai headlined, 'Dense fumes in tunnel' (South China Morning Post, October 1).

Mr Ngan referred to 'certain subjective statements and assumptions' made on the tunnel's ventilation system.

Using a lot of techspeak, he then lauded the system's fulfilment of 'stringent standards'.

Why is it that these 'stringent standards' have subjected me on countless occasions to a grey smog of obnoxious fumes? Why should I be forced to practise shallow breathing in the tunnel, and upon emerging to wind down my car windows in order to breathe properly again? If I have to resort to this in a car, what are the health implications for more exposed users on buses and motor-cycles? I suggest that Mr Ngan should leave the comfort of his computerised Central Control Room and try breathing the tunnel pollution for himself.

He will then experience the validity of 'subjective' complaints.

I also suggest that he does this outside the 1.30pm-2.30pm 'normal traffic conditions' which he has monitored.

The real world is more concerned with busier times such as lengthy commuter periods.

My own unpleasant experiences are generally, but not exclusively, around 5.30pm on weekdays when commuter traffic is starting to build up.

Goodness knows what the health risks are when traffic is heavier and moving more slowly, forcing longer exposure to foul air on every journey.

My verdict on the tunnel is even more unfavourable than Mr Ng's.

This tunnel should be a showpiece to modern engineering and environmental control.

Instead it is a likely health hazard.

The 'stringent standards and operational requirements' are failing the public.

No amount of techspeak from the tunnel company will explain away the pall of fumes that often assaults one's senses in this tunnel.

KELVYN HYMAS New Territories