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WWF opposes the CLP floating LNG terminal proposal

WWF-Hong Kong strongly objects to CLP Group’s proposal to construct a floating LNG storage and regasification platform off of the Soko Islands, south of Lantau.

WWF-Hong Kong strongly objects to CLP Group’s proposal to construct a floating LNG storage and regasification platform off of the Soko Islands, south of Lantau. The project is unnecessary and heavily motivated by commercial interests, rather than energy supply security, as mentioned in the EIA (environmental impact assessment) released today.
“The construction of the LNG terminal would unnecessarily compromise the surrounding waters of the Sokos Islands, affecting species of conservation concern such as the finless porpoise, Chinese white dolphin and other fisheries resources. This project will erode the integrity and conservation effectiveness of three Marine Parks designated for conservation of cetaceans, and hinder the recovery of marine resources,” said Samantha Lee, WWF-Hong Kong’s Assistant Director of Oceans Conservation. 
Noise from percussive piling (hammering) during the construction of the platform could impact cetacean populations and fish species with barotrauma, injury to inner sensory tissues, and reduction in hearing sensitivity. According to WWF’s underwater sound study released in 2017, the surrounding waters of Soko Islands is a key foraging habitat for both Chinese white dolphins and finless porpoise. Our study concluded foraging activities of these two species were recorded throughout the year.
Together with noise generated by marine traffic, piling could seriously disrupt foraging behaviour, elevate stress levels and increase the risk of vessel collisions. Between 9 December 2017 to 7 June 2018, a total of 24 finless porpoises were found dead in Hong Kong waters, with the majority of carcasses found with evidence of blunt force trauma, likely the result of vessel collisions.
The Soko Islands are also an important spawning and nursery ground of commercially valuable fish species. The cooled seawater discharge from an LNG facility will cause a decrease in water temperature by about 9°C, causing severe temperature shock to the surrounding seabed habitat. Huge amounts of water (20,000m3per hour) will be sucked into the machine for the regasification process, resulting in the impingement (i.e. larger-sized organisms could be retained by the intake screens) and entrainment (i.e. organisms of smaller size can be drawn into the intake system) of fish, their larvae and eggs at the point of intake.
Samantha added, “Endless development works such as dredging, dumping, infrastructure development, and the generation of pollution have already imposed severe threats to the dolphins and the porpoises as well as the whole marine ecosystem.  WWF is deeply concerned that the proposal will destroy the area’s remaining biodiversity and nullify the efforts of setting up the marine park. While we do support the use of cleaner fuels for power generation, we cannot accept the trade off that may compromise the Soko Islands.” 
WWF-Hong Kong believes that the government power utilities should invest into renewables and energy saving measures to achieve its 2030 absolute carbon emissions reduction target, while unjustified investment will increase the cost of electricity and shift the financial burden onto HongKongers under the Scheme of Control. Although natural gas from LNG is cleaner than coal, it is not clean enough to achieve Paris Agreement goals of keeping climate change to 2°C. 
There are three gas sources from Mainland China to Hong Kong including a LNG terminal in Shenzhen, providing a stable supply of gas. The new platform, lying 100m from the boundary of sensitive marine areas, will not confer any great increase in supply security but will give the two power companies more pricing leverage over existing gas suppliers. CLP and HKE should first demonstrate the business case that existing sources cannot meet projected needs and the gas terminal and storage at Shenzhen cannot be used to access international LPG markets.

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