EPD issues HK$31b contract for Shek Kwu Chau incinerator

After years of delay and controversy, the Environmental Protection Department (EPD) has finally issued the tender for the construction and operation of the waste incinerator on Shek Kwu Chau.

A Singapore-China joint venture, Keppel Seghers-Zhen Hua, has won the main tender to build and operate what is officially known as an integrated waste management facility.

The EPD has not disclosed the size of the contract, but Singapore-based Keppel-Seghers says it will be worth HK$31 billion.

The incinerator, just off Chi Ma Wan, will be built on a 16ha site at the south end of the island.

It will burn approximately 3000 tonnes of municipal waste daily after it comes into service in 2024.

Just 200 tonnes of that amount will be recycled, while several hundred tonnes of ash will be shipped by barge to the Western New Territories (WENT) landfill site at Tuen Mun.

It will also generate up to 480 million kilowatt hours in electricity capacity per annum – equivalent to 1% of Hong Kong’s total electricity consumption – that can be exported to the grid.

Keppel-Seghers says the construction, to be carried out by Zhen Hua, will “involve the reclamation of an area of about 16 ha, design, engineering and construction of breakwaters, as well as of the IWMF, and its related port facilities on the reclaimed island.”

Keppel Seghers will provide its proprietary waste-to-energy (WTE) technology, which has been successfully deployed for over 100 WTE projects around the world, as well as WTE project implementation and execution of the mechanical treatment plant, power island and desalination facilities.

After the plant is commissioned Keppel has won the right to operate it for 15 years.

The government has argued that the incinerator, first proposed in 2008, is essential for the city to deal with its mountain of household solid waste, estimated to be 5.7 million tonnes in 2015, of which the EPD says just 35% was recycled.

But the project has been criticised for its location, cost, use of old technology and its impact on air quality and marine life.

The initial site of Tsang Tsui was vetoed by rural kingmaker Lau Wong-fat because it was located next to his home village of Lung Kwu Tan.

It sparked a series of protests and a judicial review from a Cheung Chau resident on health grounds. Former EPD deputy secretary Christine Lou even described it as “dioxin-spewing”.

But with construction about to begin, the incinerator, fumes and barges are to become a permanent feature of the South Lantau coast.

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