Joint operation to combat illegal handling of hazardous electronic waste by recycling sites in Yuen Long (with photos)

     The operating companies and responsible persons of two recycling sites in Yuen Long, which illegally collected and stored a large quantity of hazardous electronic waste (e-waste), were fined a total of $24,000 by Fanling Magistrates' Courts on July 4 and today (July 11) for contravening the Waste Disposal Ordinance (WDO) and the Waste Disposal (Chemical Waste) (General) Regulation.

     An Environmental Protection Department (EPD) spokesman said that during a joint operation entitled "Operation E-change" in December last year, the EPD and relevant departments conducted surprise inspections at various open recycling sites at Lau Fau Shan and Shap Pat Heung in Yuen Long to check if they had violated relevant regulations on pollution control, fire safety and landuse planning. During the operation, the EPD intercepted a large quantity of regulated hazardous e-waste, including four tonnes of waste printed circuit boards (PCBs) and more than 1 300 LCD monitors and cathode ray tubes. Following a thorough investigation and the collection of evidence, the EPD initiated prosecutions against the involved persons of the two recycling sites.

     The spokesman said, "The EPD has all along been taking stringent action against recycling sites involved in the illegal collection, storage, disposal, import and export of hazardous electronic waste, and will continue to conduct blitz operations and prosecute the offenders."

     The spokesman said that dismantled or destroyed PCBs, LCD monitors and cathode ray tubes are hazardous e-waste that contains heavy metals and other toxic substances. They are classified as chemical waste and regulated under the existing laws on chemical waste disposal. Chemical waste is hazardous by nature and, if not properly controlled, will pollute the environment and pose a risk to the health of relevant trade practitioners and the general public. Hence, the Government has been applying stringent control of the recycling and handling of hazardous e-waste in accordance with the existing law.

     The EPD reminds recycling operators that they should strictly comply with the existing law on the control of chemical waste, which was enacted in 1992. They should register with the EPD in accordance with the law if they produce chemical waste. Chemical waste must be properly packaged, labelled and stored, as well as collected by licensed chemical waste collectors for delivery to licensed chemical waste disposal facilities for disposal. A permit has to be obtained from the EPD for exporting such waste to designated chemical waste facilities overseas for recycling or disposal. First-time offenders are liable to a maximum fine of $200,000 and six months' imprisonment. For subsequent offences, offenders are liable to a maximum fine of $500,000 and two years' imprisonment.

     Members of the public may visit the EPD's website for more information about the control of chemical waste:

Ends/Tuesday, July 11, 2017
Issued at HKT 15:55