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EPD to initiate prosecutions against two cases of illegal wastewater discharge into Shing Mun River (with photos)

     The Environmental Protection Department (EPD) today (April 27) said that following detailed investigations into two cases of illegal wastewater discharge into Shing Mun River, the department is now proceeding to institute prosecutions against the suspected parties involved.

     The affected area involves the Tai Wai Section near the surroundings of Mei Lam Estate and Fo Tan Nullah, the tributary of Shing Mun River.

     The first case occurred in early February this year. The EPD received reports that milky water had been found in Fo Tan Nullah. After an investigation, EPD officers found that a logistics centre at Fo Tan industrial area was conducting renovation works on the external wall of a building. The materials used for the renovation works might have been washed down into storm water drains, and ended up being discharged into the Fo Tan Nullah through the terminal manhole.

     In another case that took place in late March this year, the EPD received reports of polluted water entering Shing Mun River from Mei Lam Estate. During inspections at Mei Lam Estate and its vicinity, the EPD found that sewage was being discharged from the shopping arcade into Shing Mun River via the nearby storm drains. EPD officers requested the management company of the shopping arcade to immediately stop the sewage discharge from entering the storm drains. They were also told to take steps to prevent any recurrence of similar incidents and ensure that sewage is only discharged via the sewer system and not into any river course.

     The EPD is now consolidating relevant evidence of both cases and will prosecute the suspected parties, including the property management companies, according to the Water Pollution Control Ordinance (WPCO).

     The EPD's spokesman explained that the wastewater generated from residential areas, restaurants, and other industrial and commercial buildings may cause pollution to the environment. Wastewater must be discharged into communal sewers leading to the Government's sewage treatment works for proper treatment before discharging into rivers and the sea. Storm drains are to collect rain water only. Any person discharging wastewater into storm drains will cause pollution to local water and commit an offence under the WPCO.

     According to the WPCO, any person who discharges wastewater into storm drains or directly into streams or the sea contravenes the WPCO. First-time offenders are liable to a maximum fine of $200,000 and six months' imprisonment. A maximum fine of $400,000 and six months' imprisonment may be imposed on second or subsequent convictions. In addition, a daily fine of $10,000 may be imposed for a continuing offence.

     The spokesman reminded all building owners, property management companies, and construction and renovation contractors that they must adopt all measures to ensure that wastewater will not be discharged into storm drains. In addition, they have to conduct regular checks on the sewer systems of their properties and repair any breaks or blockage of the sewer pipes to prevent any discharge of wastewater that may pollute the environment.

Ends/Wednesday, April 27, 2016
Issued at HKT 17:17


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