Heavy metals and toxics found in CLP’s fly ash

Feature Story - 2005-10-03
Greenpeace found toxic heavy metals, namely mercury and arsenic, in the fly ash produced by China Light and Power (CLP). Both mercury and arsenic have not been completely captured by the existing pollution control devices, a prolonged exposure to which would put people’s health at risk.

Greenpeace members collected samples of CLP fly ash in CLP’s lagoon in Lung Ku Tan and a cement factory in June and July this year. The samples were sent to an accredited laboratory in UK for analysis.

Greenpeace members collected samples of CLP fly ash in CLP's lagoon in Lung Ku Tan and a cement factory in June and July this year. The samples were sent to an accredited laboratory in UK for analysis. The report shows that all samples contain toxic mercury and carcinogen arsenic. Estimated from the amount of fly ash produced by CLP in 2004, an annual production of mercury and arsenic are approximately 36.4kg and 14,000kg respectively.

Heavy metals cause serious environmental pollution and put human health at risk. Prolonged exposure to mercury will result in the accumulation of the substance in the body and destroy the central nerve system, kidneys and developing foetus (in the case of pregnant woman). Arsenic is carcinogenic. Prolonged exposure can cause skin and liver cancers, destroy human vascular system and nervous system.

Greenpeace demands the two local electric companies to stop burning coal and releasing toxic heavy metals and the companies should also make concrete plan for development of renewable energy, and to guarantee meeting the emissions reduction target set by Hong Kong's Environmental Protection Department. It bids the SAR government to review the existing Air Quality Objectives (AQO) by including heavy metal toxics into the air pollutants monitoring list. Moreover, the SAR administration has to oblige the electric companies to implement the emission reduction target for improving Hong Kong air quality.

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