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Advisory Council on the Environment

Steps Taken by Environmental Protection Department in Keeping Up with New Development in Environmental Technology

(ACE Paper 15/2001)
For information

PURPOSE

This paper is prepared in response to the Chairman's request to inform Members of the steps taken by Environmental Protection Department (EPD) in keeping up with new development in environmental technology.

STEPS TAKEN BY EPD

2. EPD staff keep themselves up-to-date on the latest development in the field of environmental protection through various channels, including environmental news bulletins, journals, and the Internet. We are currently in subscription of 183 local and overseas journals, newspapers and databases on environmental-related subjects.

3. The 420 professional staff of the department are active members of more than 100 professional institutions in various environmental disciplines, through which they keep in touch with the latest development and technology in their respective field of expertise. For example, we are in close contact with the International Solid Waste Association and its Working Group on Thermal Treatment of Waste. As a member of the Steering Committee for the International Study of the Effectiveness of Environmental Assessment, we led an international review of the best practices on Environmental Impact Assessment follow-up in 1994-1996.

4. In addition, EPD has established close contact with overseas government environmental authorities, to stay in touch with the latest trends and developments in environmental policies, legislative requirements, and management approach. We also liaise with international environmental organisations, such as the International Maritime Organisation (Secretariat to the London Dumping Convention), and the Basel Secretariat.

5. We are regularly in touch with the universities, research institutes, consultants, equipment suppliers, both local and overseas ones, to keep ourselves informed of the latest development in environmental technology. Our staff visit overseas organisations where necessary to obtain first hand knowledge on the state of the art technology and new developments. These include innovative wastewater treatment works, waste treatment facilities, fuel cell research laboratory, etc. In some cases, we go overseas to look at new designs and conduct our own assessments (e.g. visit to Orlando Disney to measure the noise performance of the fireworks, and to Japan to measure the noise performance of new stadium design). In return, we also receive overseas visitors including research scientists, equipment suppliers and specialist consultants to learn about the latest technology.

6. In addition to participating in environmental conferences, seminars, and workshops, both local and overseas, to share our experience with experts, EPD is active in organising these events. In 2000, EPD participated in 78 local and international conferences, with a participation head count of over 350. Some notable examples of the international conferences and seminars we had helped organised and hosted in Hong Kong in 2000 were:
 

  • Annual Meeting of the International Association for Impact Assessment
     
  • The International Symposium and Exhibition on Waste Management in Asian Cities - International Solid Waste Association (ISWA)
     
  • The First Regional Training Seminar of the Secretariat of the Basel Convention on the Control of Trans-Boundary Shipment of Hazardous Waste
     
  • Environmental Law Enforcement Seminar with Environment Canada

7. Locally, we commission studies through the academic institutions, consultants and other organisations to obtain advice on the latest environmental technology available. Where necessary, trials and field tests are carried out to determine the suitability of specific technique or technology for local application, e.g. particulate traps and catalytic converters for diesel vehicles.

8. EPD also collaborates with the academic institutions on research in environmental projects, e.g. the use of local marine organisms for determination of toxicity of sediment, and the rapid determination of E. coli using the PCR (Polymerase Chain Reaction) technique.

9. The following are some examples on the application of information technology in EPD's work :

  • the introduction of electronic environmental monitoring and auditing and the web-based EIA in Hong Kong
     
  • the use of Global Positioning System for the tracking of barges for marine dumping control
     
  • the wider use of Personal Data Assistant for data collection in the field for enforcement work

10. EPD will continue to pursue all available channels to upkeep its knowledge on the latest environmental technology, and to apply it for tackling local environmental problems where appropriate.

ADVICE SOUGHT

11. Members are invited to note the content of this paper.


 

Environmental Protection Department
April 2001

 

 

 

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