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LCQ14: Combating illegal fuel activities

     Following is a written reply by the Secretary for Security, Mr Ambrose S K Lee, to a question by the Hon Wong Sing-chi in the Legislative Council today (May 2):


     It has been reported that an illegal fuel filling station in the vicinity of residential areas at Shek Wu Tong Tsuen in Pat Heung of Yuen Long was reopened early this year after it had been cracked down by the Police in July last year, and the law-breakers arranged a large number of modified sedans to illegally carry low-priced fuel from the Mainland to unload at the said illegal filling station to make profit, disregarding the safety of the residents nearby.

     Besides, it has been reported that an outside goods vehicle visits a Food and Environmental Hygiene Department (FEHD) refuse depot at Tin Wan in Aberdeen at regular times every week to refuel the vehicles of FEHD's various outsourced cleaning service contractors, thereby turning the refuse depot into an illegal fuel station.  It has also been reported that the spokesperson of the Fire Services Department (FSD) has confirmed that approval has not been granted by FSD for the said goods vehicle to convey diesel oil in bulk, which is a kind of dangerous goods in category 5 (substances giving off inflammable vapour).  In this connection, will the Government inform this Council:

(a) of the number of illegal fuel filling stations cracked down by the Police in the past three years, together with the number of illegal fuel filling stations cracked down and reopened; whether the authorities have reviewed the adequacy of their combat efforts and made sure that the illegal fuel filling stations will not be reopened; regarding the issue of law-breakers carrying illegal fuel from the Mainland into Hong Kong, whether the various law enforcement departments (including the Police Force, FSD and the Customs and Excise Department) will jointly establish a mechanism for preventing and combating the operation of illegal fuel filling stations; if they will, of the details and work schedule; if not, the reasons for that;

(b) whether it knows if, apart from FEHD's contractors, any outsourced contractor of other government departments has used the aforesaid illegal method to refuel their vehicles; whether FEHD has conducted any territory-wide investigation in relation to the aforesaid case of illegal fuel filling station, with a view to ensuring that other refuse depots will not be turned into illegal fuel filling stations and preventing other vehicles from participating in illegal fuel filling; if it has, of the details; if not, the reasons for that; whether FEHD has set up any monitoring mechanism in relation to the refueling and related operation for its vehicles and its contractors' vehicles; if it has, of the details; if not, the reasons for that; and

(c) whether it has assessed if the aforesaid goods vehicle involved in the case breaches the laws of Hong Kong in conveying dangerous goods in category 5 without FSD's approval; if assessment has been made, of the details and the respective law-enforcement actions taken by the Government; whether FSD has provided any code of practice at present to ensure that such dangerous goods are conveyed and handled appropriately by the personnel concerned; if it has, of the details; if not, the reasons for that, and the methods adopted to ensure that such dangerous goods will not cause accidents of a massive scale?



(a) Under the enforcement purview of the Customs and Excise Department (C&ED), illegal fuel means duty-not-paid fuel under the Dutiable Commodities Ordinance (Chapter 109).  Since the waiver of the duty for Euro V diesel by the Government in July 2008, the illegal fuel activities (including import, distribution and retail) combated by C&ED mainly involve petrol.  In the past three years, C&ED has cracked down a total of 982 cases of illegal fuel activities.

     The Fire Services Department (FSD) is responsible for combating illegal storage, conveyance, use and sale activities of Category 5 dangerous goods (including petrol and diesel) under the Dangerous Goods Ordinance (Chapter 295) and Fire Services (Fire Hazard Abatement) Regulation (Chapter 95F).  In the past three years, FSD has taken 469 prosecution actions against such illegal activities.

     Starting from 2006, C&ED and FSD have established a co-operative mechanism in combating illegal fuel activities, which includes mutual exchange of intelligence and conducting joint operations.  For black spots likely to be used for illegal fuel activities, the two Departments will maintain close surveillance and gather intelligence to step up actions.  Where circumstances require, the Police will assist relevant departments to take enforcement actions.

(b) and (c) In general, the contracts between the Government and the contractors will stipulate that the activities of the contractor shall comply with the laws of Hong Kong.  As regards the case mentioned in the question relating to suspected illegal fuel filling of a cleansing service contractor of the Food and Environmental Hygiene Department (FEHD), FSD first received the report of such illegal fuel filling activities outside the refuse collection point at No. 9 Tin Wan Path, Aberdeen on February 14, 2012.  FSD officers carried out inspection at the location on the same day without any finding.  During the follow up inspection at the said location on February 17, FSD found a lorry loaded with diesel (classified as Category 5 dangerous goods) without a valid licence.  FSD removed the dangerous goods concerned and is considering to take prosecution action against the person concerned.  FSD officers carried out further inspections at the location in February, March and April and no illegal fuel filling activity was found.

     In the past three years, FEHD was not aware of any case in which its refuse collection points were used as illegal fuel filling stations.  The department's cleansing service contracts stipulate that vehicles and equipment etc used by the contractor in performing the services should comply with the provisions of the cleansing service contract concerned and relevant laws of Hong Kong.  If any non-compliance is discovered, FEHD will take penalty actions and refer the case to relevant departments for follow-up action.

     Pursuant to section 6 of the Dangerous Goods Ordinance, no person shall convey Category 5 dangerous goods more than the exempted quantity except under a licence granted by FSD.  Otherwise, the person shall be guilty of an offence.  Upon conviction, he/she shall be liable to a maximum fine of $25,000 and imprisonment for six months.  In granting the licence, FSD will formulate the required fire safety requirements having regard to the types of dangerous goods to be conveyed by that vehicle and will issue a licence only when the vehicle has complied with all such requirements.  If a licenced vehicle is found to have breached the licensing requirements (for example, the fire extinguishers on the vehicle cannot function properly), FSD will take prosecution actions in accordance with section 9B of the Dangerous Goods Ordinance.  Upon conviction, the person shall be liable to a maximum fine of $10,000 and imprisonment for one month.

Ends/Wednesday, May 2, 2012
Issued at HKT 14:50


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