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Dredging up concern at Kwai Chung

Hong Kong:  Millions of cubic metres of contaminated sediment will be dredged from the seabed at Kwai Chung to allow larger vessels to dock, but an academic has told the South China Morning Post the move may pose an environmental danger.
Government engineers plan to remove the sediment to deepen to 17 metres the terminal basin and part of the channel leading to the port at the Kwai Chung container terminal. This would allow it to handle ultra-large container ships even during low tide, around the clock.
However, it is estimated the work will generate at least 5.5 million cubic metres of contaminated mud. One-fifth of it may have to be dumped in a confined seabed pit off North Lantau. The environmental impact assessment would be carried out, the government says.
Michael Lam Hon-wah, a professor on environmental chemistry at City University, said dredging the seabed could distribute heavy metals into the water, which could later re-enter the food chain.
Professor Lam said Kwai Chung was an industrialised area, where untreated sewage in the past had been discharged around the nearby seabed. In addition, many ocean-going ships coated with chemicals might also have deposited the metals onto the seabed.
"Unless it is necessary work, it would be much better to leave this sediment untouched," Professor Lam said. [24/10/08]


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