LCQ19: South East New Territories Landfill

     Following is a question by the Hon Ip Wai-ming and a written reply by the Secretary for the Environment, Mr Edward Yau, in the Legislative Council meeting today (February 1):


     The South East New Territories (SENT) Landfill, which is located in Area 101 at Tseung Kwan O and was commissioned in 1994, was originally expected to be exhausted by around 2013.  The Government earlier pointed out that as the Integrated Waste Management Facilities which could effectively reduce the volume of waste requiring disposal at landfills would only be commissioned in mid 2010s, extension of the SENT Landfill in early to mid 2010s was therefore necessary.  Apart from the odour from the SENT Landfill which affects the nearby residents, quite a number of drivers have recently complained to me that many dump trucks going in and out of the SENT Landfill via Wan Po Road are not properly covered with canvas, causing environmental pollution in the vicinity of Wan Po Road, and traffic accidents frequently occur there because stones and sand dropping from the cargo compartments of those dump trucks hit and break the windows of other vehicles on the road.  In this connection, will the Government inform this Council :

(a) of the number of complaints about odour from the SENT Landfill received each month by the authorities in the past three years; whether the authorities have any new measure in place to alleviate the odour nuisance from the landfill; if they have, of the details and the implementation timetable; if not, the reasons for that;

(b) whether the authorities had received any complaint in the past three years about environmental pollution in the vicinity of Wan Po Road; if they had, of the number and contents of such complaints;

(c) among the traffic accidents which occurred on Wan Po Road in the past three years, of the number of those involving dump trucks; whether the authorities have analysed the causes of such traffic accidents; if they have, of the details; if not, the reasons for that;

(d) whether the authorities had prosecuted dump truck drivers in the past three years for overloading or non-compliance with environmental protection measures; if they had, of the number of such prosecutions and the offences involved in general; if not, the reasons for that; whether the authorities have provided guidelines to advise vehicles entering the SENT Landfill to enhance their protective facilities; if they have, of the details; if not, whether they will consider formulating such guidelines; and

(e) whether the authorities have conducted any environmental pollution survey in Tseung Kwan O district since the commissioning of the SENT Landfill; if they have, of the details; if not, whether the authorities have any plan to conduct a comprehensive environmental pollution survey in the district?



     Hong Kong is now facing an imminent waste management problem.  At present, about 13,500 tonnes of waste are disposed of daily at the three strategic landfills, namely South East New Territories (SENT) Landfill, North East New Territories Landfill and West New Territories Landfill and these three landfills are estimated to be exhausted in 2014, 2016 and 2018 respectively.  To resolve the imminent waste management problem in a comprehensive and timely manner, the Government announced on January 4, 2011 a revised waste management strategy and its updated action plan to tackle the waste management problem in Hong Kong in the long run.  With the initiatives of "Reduce, Recycle and Proper Waste Management", the Government brings up three strategies which include promoting waste reduction and recycling at source, introducing modern waste treatment facilities and timely extension of landfills.

     Since early 2004 when the SENT Landfill extension project was at its conceptual and feasibility study stage, the Environmental Protection Department (EPD) has already started the consultation with all stakeholders.  After prolonged discussion, the Government understands the views of the residents of Tseung Kwan O town on the SENT Landfill extension, and has positively addressed their concerns by scaling down the extension scheme.  This means the reduced scheme will not occupy 5-hectares of the Clear Water Bay Country Park, the area of landfill extension in Tseung Kwan O Area 137 will be reduced to 13 hectares (as against the original 15.6 hectares), and the proposed SENT Landfill extension will only receive odourless waste (namely construction waste), in order to solve the odour problem of the landfill.  We believe that if the revised SENT Landfill extension scheme could be implemented, the future SENT Landfill extension will only receive construction waste which is odourless, and the concerns from the residents will then be fully addressed.

     Regarding the question raised by the Hon Ip, our replies are as follows:

(a) The number of odour complaints in Tseung Kwan O received by EPD relating to the landfill in the past three years is as follows:

            2009    2010    2011
January       4       0       5
February      2       9      14
March         4      32      12
April         9      14      23
May          27      22      74
June        170      91     194
July        130     108     299
August      137     256     320
September    42     121      81
October       9      29      20
November     12      32      73
December      2      39       5
Total       548     753   1,120

     To minimise the environmental impacts of the landfill on the surrounding areas, the landfill was designed and constructed to a high standard as a secure containment facility incorporating composite impermeable liner systems and proper systems for the collection and treatment of landfill gas and leachate.  To address the concerns from the Tseung Kwan O residents on odour nuisance, the EPD has stepped up odour management and control measures over the past five years to further abate the potential odour impact of the landfill.  These measures include covering the tipping areas with a layer of soil and then Posi-Shell Cover, a cement-based cover material, at the end of the daily waste reception process; covering the non-active tipping areas with temporary impermeable liners; setting up fixed deodorisers at the landfill boundary; providing additional mobile deodorisers at the tipping area; putting a mobile cover on the special waste trench; and installing additional landfill gas extraction pipes and mobile landfill gas flaring units.  The EPD will continue to implement the above measures and ensure that the completed waste disposal areas are capped and restored promptly.

     Refuse collection vehicles are one of the potential odour sources.  To improve the cleanliness of these vehicles leaving the landfill, the EPD has upgraded the existing wheel washing facility into a full-body vehicle washing facility to ensure that the entire body of every refuse collection vehicle is washed before leaving the landfill to minimise the odour nuisance caused by such vehicles.  To mitigate the potential odour problem caused by dripping leachate from refuse collection vehicles, the EPD will continue to step up the cleansing work for the section of Wan Po Road between the SENT Landfill and the roundabout at Hang Hau and review the effectiveness of this measure regularly.

(b) Between 2009 and 2011, the EPD received three odour emission complaints and seven dust emission cases against vehicles passing Wan Po Road.

(c) The traffic accident database does not have a separate category for dump trucks in its vehicle records.  We have been informed that there were about 10 traffic accidents on Wan Po Road per year involving medium and heavy goods vehicles in the past three years, but there is no information on whether the accidents were related to conveying fill debris.

(d) The database on prosecution does not have a separate category for dump trucks in its vehicle records.  As for vehicles entering the SENT Landfill, the EPD will remind the trade to cover properly the construction waste during conveyance to prevent dust emission or materials from falling off on the road at its regular meetings with the trade and through distribution of leaflets at the landfill.

(e) In response to the concerns from the Sai Kung District Council and residents, the EPD closely monitors and takes follow-up actions on the environmental problems in Tseung Kwan O including individual issues of concern such as odour.  For example, electronic odour detection systems (i.e. electronic nose) were installed at Ocean Shores and SENT Landfill to help identify the nature and source of odour.  For odour complaint cases, the EPD will promptly investigate and follow up.  For instance, it will understand the odour situation at complaint location, identify the odour source and provide timely assistance.  The EPD even extends the work shift of its staff to 11pm to handle odour complaints received outside office hours for the period between June and October when there are more odour complaints.

     In addition, the Sai Kung District Officer has established an inter-departmental working group comprising representatives from the Sai Kung District Office, EPD, Hong Kong Police Force, Transport Department, Civil Engineering and Development Department, Food and Environmental Hygiene Department, Drainage Services Department, Sai Kung District Lands Office and Highways Department, to strengthen the co-ordination of investigation and follow-up actions among government departments to tackle environmental nuisances in Tseung Kwan O, including Wan Po Road.  Since its establishment in 2005, the Group has held many meetings, implemented improvement measures at Wan Po Road and its vicinity, and conducted joint enforcement and prosecution operations.

Ends/Wednesday, February 1, 2012
Issued at HKT 15:47