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LCQ19: Alleged marine dumping by the contractor of the Central-Wanchai Bypass project

     Following is a question by the Hon Chan Yuen-han and a written reply by the Secretary for the Environment, Mr Wong Kam-sing, in the Legislative Council today (January 6):


     It has been uncovered by the press that the contractor of the Central-Wan Chai Bypass project (CWB project) had unlawfully dumped construction waste generated from the project into the waters of Victoria Harbour repeatedly.  As disclosed by a project stakeholder, the dumping lasted for more than six months and the construction waste involved was an inert construction waste known as "bentonite".  This material will reduce oxygen concentration in water, which is non-conducive to the survival of marine organisms and will seriously impact on the water quality of Victoria Harbour that has seen improvement in recent years.  According to a paper submitted by the authorities to the Public Works Subcommittee of this Council in June 2009, the construction waste (including inert construction waste) and marine mud generated from the CWB project must be delivered to appropriate facilities for disposal instead of being dumped into the sea.  In this connection, will the Government inform this Council:

(1) since commencement of the CWB project, whether the authorities have deployed staff to conduct regular inspections of the relevant sites to check if the contractors have disposed of construction waste pursuant to the requirements; if they have, of the number and mode of inspections, and whether they have notified the contractors and the consultants responsible for site supervision before conducting such inspections; and

(2) whether it has launched a comprehensive investigation into the aforesaid allegation of unlawful dumping, including conducting laboratory tests on the water quality of the relevant waters; if it has not, of the reasons for that; if it has, the details and outcome; if the investigation outcome indicates that the allegation is substantiated, whether the contractor concerned has breached the works contract and relevant legislation because of unlawful dumping; if there is such a breach, how the authorities have followed up the matter, including what remedial measures they have taken and how they have penalised the contractor concerned?



     The Central-Wan Chai Bypass project (CWB project) is subject to the controls of the Environmental Permit (EP) issued by the Environmental Protection Department (EPD). Under the EP, used bentonite slurry generated during construction activities must be processed and delivered to a public fill bank for disposal in accordance with the EP conditions. Besides, the CWB project should also comply with other relevant environmental legislation, including the requirements that wastewater generated on site must be treated to meet the specified standards before discharge, and that construction waste and rubbish should not be disposed of at sea.

     Our responses to the specific questions raised by the Hon Chan Yuen-han are as follows:

(1) Since the commencement of the CWB project in 2010, the EPD has conducted about 90 inspections to examine the measures taken on site in abating air, water and noise pollution as well as waste disposal, and the compliance with various environmental monitoring requirements.  Inspections carried out by our enforcement staff were surprise inspections without advance notification.  When inspections are carried out for major construction sites, the EPD staff would normally first make inspections around the site or at a height to observe the actual operations inside the site, and take note of any polluting discharge from the site or any pollution or nuisance caused to the surrounding environment. Our staff then enter the site for conducting inspection on the operation of the relevant measures taken, which would help ensure that our inspections are impartial and objective. Any breaches of environmental legislation found will definitely be followed up with an investigation and necessary enforcement action.

(2) The EPD is very concerned about the alleged dumping of used bentonite into the waters of the Victoria Harbour. An in-depth investigation is underway to investigate, among others, the storage, use, processing, delivery and disposal records of the used bentonite.  Samples of sea water and marine sediments have also been taken at locations around the construction site for chemical analysis. If any breach of environmental legislation is revealed by the investigation's findings, the EPD will certainly initiate prosecution proceedings against the offenders.

     In addition, the Highways Department (HyD) has also instructed resident site staff of their engineering consultant to step up their inspection and supervision of the operations on site.  The contractors have been reminded to fully comply with the environmental legislation and contractual requirements throughout the construction works. Any violation of the law or breaches of the contracts by the contractors will be strictly dealt with by the HyD.

Ends/Wednesday, January 6, 2016
Issued at HKT 12:52


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