LCQ1: Operation of strategic landfills

     Following is a question by the Hon Miriam Lau and a reply by the Secretary for the Environment, Mr Edward Yau, in the Legislative Council today (May 18):


     It has been learnt that as the three existing landfills, namely the South East New Territories ("SENT") Landfill, the North East New Territories Landfill and the West New Territories Landfill, will be exhausted in 2014, 2016 and 2018 respectively, the Government has planned to acquire land for landfilling at Tseung Kwan O Area 137 which is adjacent to the SENT Landfill, but it will study using the landfill only for handling construction waste.  In this connection, will the Government inform this Council:

(a) of the number of complaints received by the authorities in the past three years about odour from various landfills; and whether they had assessed the impact of odour from landfills on human health; if they had, of the details and results of the assessment; if not, the reasons for that;

(b) given that the authorities have planned to build an incinerator at Tsang Tsui in Tuen Mun, of the estimated distribution of the types of waste to be transported to the various landfills and the incinerator upon its commissioning, with a breakdown by type of waste; and

(c) whether the authorities have put in place a testing mechanism to verify the effectiveness of the deodorisation measures taken in the past; if they have, of the details; if not, the reasons for that; whether they will plan to introduce new deodorisation technology in the future; if they will, of the details; if not, the reasons for that?

Reply :


(a) Complaints about odour from the strategic landfills received by the Environmental Protection Department (EPD) over the past three years are as follows -

                           2008      2009     2010
North East
New Territories Landfill     0         0       0
South East
New Territories Landfill    747       548    753
West New
Territories Landfill         3        10       6
Note: The number of complaints about SENT Landfill received in the first four months of 2011 is 54.

     The design and operation of all three existing landfills meet various very stringent environmental performance objectives and requirements and international standards. As such, they have no adverse impact on the environment and public health. Earlier on the EPD had completed the environmental impact assessment (EIA) for the extension of the three landfills, of which the air quality impact assessment included an assessment of the odour impact on the surroundings. The EIA reports show that with the implementation of various recommended mitigation measures, the air quality of the surrounding areas will meet the requirements of the relevant Hong Kong Air Quality Objectives.

(b) To handle the sludge generated by sewage treatment works, the Government is now constructing a sludge treatment facility for treating sludge with incineration technology at Tsang Tsui in Tuen Mun. The plant is expected to be commissioned in late 2013, when all sludge generated by sewage treatment works will be delivered to the facility for treatment and will not be disposed of at the landfills.

     Separately, as part of its strategy for proper waste management, the Government also plans to build the Integrated Waste Management Facilities (IWMF) with a daily capacity of 3,000 tonnes. Using advanced incineration as the core technology, the facility will reduce the volume of municipal solid waste (MSW) treated by 90% and reduce the pressure on the landfills. In 2008, we identified an artificial island off Shek Kwu Chau (SKC) and Tsang Tsui Ash Lagoons as the potential sites for developing the IWMF. Detailed Engineering Investigation and EIA studies were conducted for these two potential sites. Taking into account the EIA report results, other factors relating to site selection and Hong Kong's overall waste management strategy, the Government has identified the artificial island near SKC as the preferred site for developing the first modern IWMF, subject to final approval of the EIA report. We plan to seek funding approval from the Finance Committee of the Legislative Council for the construction of the said facility in the first half of 2012. When the facility is commissioned, around 3000 tonnes of MSW from the Hong Kong Island and West Kowloon transfer stations will be delivered to the IWMF for treatment using modern incineration technology while the remaining waste generated in the territory will be delivered to the three landfills for disposal.  

(c) Odour nuisance associated with landfilling operation has been assessed in detail during the project feasibility stage. Landfill contractors are required to implement the recommended mitigation measures under the contract during the construction and operation stages. These measures include odour avoidance and deodorisation measures, for example, minimising the size of the waste tipping area as far as possible, immediate compaction of the waste after tipping and covering up of the waste received with suitable materials (such as soil) before closing for the day. Such measures can prevent odour and minimise or avoid the nuisance caused by waste to the surroundings.

     In addition to strict control of the landfilling operation by the contractors, the EPD also monitors the contractors' operation and carries out environmental monitoring to ensure their compliance with the stringent environmental performance requirements under the contracts as well as the statutory requirements in the relevant pollution control legislation.

     We understand residents' concern over odour nuisance despite the very high international standards met by our current landfilling operation. Take the SENT Landfill as an example, over the past four years, we have tightened the control over potential odour during waste reception and landfilling. New odour control technologies have been introduced to further minimise the potential odour impact of the landfill. Following an on-site test of the effectiveness of new technologies and a study on their feasibility, we have implemented a series of additional odour management and control measures, including covering the non-active tipping areas with temporary impermeable liner, putting a movable cover on the special waste trench, installing extra landfill gas extraction wells and mobile landfill gas flaring units, providing additional deodorisers and covering the tipping areas with a layer of soil as well as a layer of cement-based cover material at the close of waste reception for the day. Separately, we are examining the application of this cement-based cover material to other non-active tipping areas with a view to further minimising the impact of potential odour from landfill and ensuring environmental hygiene. We have also responded to the request from the Sai Kung District Council and introduced electronic odour detection system (i.e. e-nose) in July 2010 for a trial period of 12 months for odour detection and measurement. All in all, we will continue to implement the above measures and, where possible, introduce new, feasible odour control measures.

     Separately, since August 25, 2010, the EPD has stepped up the cleansing of Wan Po Road to mitigate the potential odour problem caused by dripping of wastewater from refuse collection vehicles. The section of Wan Po Road between the SENT Landfill and the roundabout at Hang Hau is cleansed from 8am to midnight daily. The EPD will regularly review the effectiveness of this measure. As refuse collection vehicles are one of the potential sources of odour, to improve the cleanliness of these vehicles leaving the landfill, the EPD will upgrade the existing facility for wheel washing to full-body vehicle washing facility to ensure that the entire body of every refuse collection vehicle is washed before leaving the landfill. The said facility is under construction and is expected to be operational in the second half of 2011. In the run-up to the commissioning of the full-body vehicle washing facility, the landfill contractor has since September 3, 2010 provided free vehicle body washing for private refuse collection vehicles to minimise the odour nuisance caused by such vehicles during the delivery of waste.

Ends/Wednesday, May 18, 2011
Issued at HKT 13:17