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LCQ18: Engine stalling incidents of liquefied petroleum gas vehicles

     Following is a question by the Hon Wong Sing-chi and a written reply by the Secretary for the Environment, Mr Edward Yau, at the Legislative Council meeting today (November 17):


     Following a large number of stalling incidents involving the liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) taxis and public light buses which happened in Hong Kong earlier this year, the Electrical and Mechanical Services Department (EMSD) set up the Task Force on the LPG Vehicle Stalling Incident (the Task Force) to follow up the incidents.  The Task Force published its investigation reports (the report) on March 16 and September 1 this year respectively, identifying several factors and problems which might possibly be the causes of the incidents.  They included the quality of LPG, the operation of clearing the residues and water at the bottom of LPG tanks (commonly referred to as "water draining") and the maintenance of vehicles, etc.  In this connection, will the Government inform this Council:

(a) given that it was pointed out in the report that EMSD had sent various LPG samples collected from different LPG terminals and filling stations to independent laboratories in Huizhou and Germany for testing, whether the authorities have studied establishing independent laboratories in Hong Kong so that the relevant tests can be conducted locally; if they have, of the details; if not, the reasons for that;

(b) whether the authorities will consider introducing penalty for failure to follow the work procedure for terminals when conducting "water draining" operations so as to ensure that the quality of LPG and normal operation of gas piping; if they will, of the details; if not, the reasons for that; and

(c) regarding a number of recommendations proposed in the report (including EMSD should continue to conduct random LPG sample tests to ensure that the quality of LPG complies with the auto-LPG specification, incorporating information on the key maintenance issues identified in the testing scheme, particularly those procedures which have often been neglected and the use of appropriate tools, into the Code of Practice on the Repair and Maintenance of LPG Vehicle Fuel System (the Code) being drafted, incorporating key maintenance issues into the syllabus of courses relating to LPG vehicles to be offered by the Vocational Training Council (VTC) in the future; and the trade should further enhance the maintenance and repair of LPG vehicles, etc.), of the progress of the follow-up actions taken by the authorities and the timetable for implementing the recommendations; when the drafting of the Code is expected to complete; and whether they have discussed respectively with VTC and the trade details of the implementation of the recommendations; if they have, of the details; if not, the reasons for that?



     EMSD set up a task force to investigate the engine stalling incidents of LPG vehicles (the incident) which took place at the beginning of this year. The investigation report was published on March 16, 2010, and the results of the LPG Vehicle Testing Scheme (the Scheme) were also released on September 1, 2010.

(a) LPG samples taken during the task force's investigation were analysed by independent laboratories in Huizhou and Germany.  This arrangement was made with regard to the requirement on the laboratory tests as well as time considerations. As an internationally-recognised independent testing institute is planning to set up a laboratory in Hong Kong, local testing on LPG samples which can meet the relevant standards is expected to be available soon.

(b) In general, LPG supply companies have developed internal work procedures (including the water draining operation) that can best meet the characteristics of their LPG sources and the design of their terminals. Since the incident, EMSD has examined the water draining operation records in the routine LPG terminal safety inspections.  Since January 2010, EMSD has examined nearly 450 records of water draining operations so far, which were found to be in compliance with the internal work procedures of respective LPG supply companies. EMSD will closely monitor the LPG terminal operations and take follow-up actions when necessary.

(c) EMSD is actively following up the recommendations in the investigation report and the progress is as follows:

(i) LPG Quality

     EMSD will continue to review the independent testing reports submitted by LPG supply companies upon each shipment of LPG, to ensure that the quality of imported LPG complies with the specification.  EMSD is also taking forward the LPG Sample Testing Programme, under which random LPG samples have been taken from various LPG filling stations and terminals on a regular basis. A total of 93 samples had been taken and tested between January 7, 2010 and November 15, 2010. The laboratory test results, which have been uploaded on the internet for public reference, showed that the quality of the LPG would not affect the performance of the vehicles.

(ii) Code of Practice on the Repair and Maintenance of LPG Vehicle Fuel System

     Key maintenance issues identified in the Scheme, in particular the procedures that may easily be neglected, such as the maintenance of ageing or deteriorating parts and the use of appropriate tools, have been incorporated into the draft Code.  Subject to views from relevant trade as gauged in the consultation which commenced in September 2010, the Code is expected to be finalised and effective by end December 2010.

(iii) Maintenance of LPG Vehicles

     The VTC has agreed to incorporate the key maintenance issues into the syllabus of future training courses on the maintenance of LPG vehicles, so as to enhance the know-how of vehicle mechanics in respect of LPG vehicle maintenance.

     EMSD has also distributed leaflets to the trade since March 2010, to provide technical advice on key issues of LPG vehicle maintenance.  In addition, EMSD, together with the agent of the LPG vehicles, organised two briefing sessions for the trade in May and July 2010 to further enhance the understanding of the trade to issues relating to vehicle maintenance.

     EMSD will also organise briefing sessions upon the implementation of the Code to explain to the trade requirements stipulated therein.

Ends/Wednesday, November 17, 2010
Issued at HKT 11:43


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