Joint departmental operation detects illegal activities at open waste recycling sites (with photos)

     In a joint departmental enforcement operation, the Environmental Protection Department (EPD) detected that four recycling sites in North District and Yuen Long were suspected to have illegally handled hazardous electronic waste (e-waste). The EPD is now investigating the persons involved and gathering evidence in preparation for instituting prosecutions. The Lands Department (LandsD) also found alleged unauthorised structures at three recycling sites and will take appropriate lease enforcement action.
     An EPD spokesman today (March 26) said that the department's enforcement officers conducted a joint operation with the Fire Services Department (FSD), LandsD and the Planning Department (PlanD) on two consecutive days (March 22 and 23). The operation, entitled "Operation Shine", aimed at conducting surprise inspections at open waste recycling yards in North District and at San Tin in Yuen Long, to check whether their operations complied with the land lease conditions or legal requirements on pollution control, fire safety and land use.
     The EPD found that four open waste recycling sites located at Ping Che and Man Kam To in North District and San Tin in Yuen Long, were allegedly involved in illegal collection, storage and handling of large quantities of hazardous e-waste, which is regulated as chemical waste. About 20 tonnes of hazardous e-waste were found during the operation, mainly including waste printed circuit boards (PCBs), lead-acid batteries and rechargeable batteries, with an estimated export market value of around $2 million. Separately, PlanD is also investigating whether there was any violation of land-use controls at the above recycling sites. The FSD also reminded responsible persons and staff of the recycling sites about fire safety requirements during the operation.
      An EPD spokesman said, "The EPD has all along been taking stringent action against illegal collection, storage, disposal, import and export of hazardous e-waste by recycling sites, and will continue to conduct enforcement operations with relevant departments and prosecute the offenders."

     The spokesman stressed that dismantled or destroyed PCBs, LCD monitors and cathode ray tubes are hazardous e-waste, containing heavy metals and other toxic substances. They are classified as chemical waste and are 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 reminded recycling operators that they should strictly comply with the relevant law on the control of chemical waste. 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/Monday, March 26, 2018
Issued at HKT 17:46