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Advisory Council on the Environment

Confirmed Minutes of the 56th Meeting of the Environmental Impact Assessment Subcommittee of the Advisory Council on the Environment held on 18 December 2000 at 12:00 pm

Present:
Professor LAM Kin-che (Chairman)
Mr Barrie COOK
Professor Peter HILLS
Dr. HO Kin-chung
Mr LIN Chaan-ming
Dr NG Cho-nam
Mr Otto POON
Mr Plato YIP
Miss Alex YAU
Miss Petula POON (Secretary)


In Attendance:
Mr Elvis AU Assistant Director (Environmental Assessment & Noise), Environmental Protection Department (EPD) (AD(EA)/EPD)
Mr C C LAY Atg. Assistant Director (Conservation), Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department (AFCD) (Atg. AD(Conservation)/AFCD)
Miss Cora SO Executive Officer (B), Environment and Food Bureau


In Attendance for Agenda Item 4
Mr. W L Chan Senior Engineer, Civil Engineering Department (CED) (SE/CED)
Mr. Anthony Lam Senior Geotechnical Engineer, CED (SGE/CED)
Mr. S T Ip Atg. Senior Engineer/Design, Water Supplies Department (WSD) (Atg. SE(Design)/WSD)
Mr. S Catlin Engineer/Design, WSD (E(Design)/WSD)
Ms. N Hamey-Yiu Senior Landscape Architect, Highways Department (HyD) (SLA/HyD)
Mr. T Y Wong Landscape Architect, HyD (LA/HyD)


In Attendance for Agenda Item 6 :
Mr. W K Tam Deputy Director (Special Duties), CED (DD(SD)/CED)
Mr. W S Wu Senior Engineer (Works)4, CED (SE(W)4/CED)
Mr. Steve Jones Mouchel Asia Ltd. (Consultant/MAL)
Mr. Simon Hui Principal Environmental Protection Officer (Assessment & Audit), EPD
Ms. Minna Wong Fisheries Officer, AFCD (FO/AFCD)

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Agenda Item 1 : Confirmation of Minutes of 55th Meeting held on 27 June, 6 & 11 July 2000

AD(EA)/EPD proposed the following amendments to the minutes of the 55th meeting :

  1. Para. 26 : 'AD(EA)/EPD said that Long Valley was currently neither zoned as "Conservation Area" under the Outline Zoning Plan, nor did it....'
  2. Para. 27 : 'AD(EA)/EPD said that in considering the Spur Line project, the principle of "avoiding the sensitive area where practicable" should apply.'
  3. Para. 28 : 'AD(EA)/EPD added that an important consideration for all mitigation measures was that there should be "no net loss" of the ecological function and capacity of the project area at issue.

The minutes were confirmed subject to AD(EA)/EPD's amendments.

Agenda Item 2 : Matters Arising

2. There were no matters arising from the last meeting.

Agenda Item 3 : Proposed RMC Concrete Batching Plant at Telegraph Bay for Cyber Port Development
(ACE EIA Paper 11/2000)

3. Members noted that the EIA report of the Proposed RMC Concrete Batching Plant at Telegraph Bay for Cyber Port Development had been circulated and would be recommended to the Council for endorsement without conditions.

Agenda Item 4 : Construction of Yam O Yuk Fresh Water Reservoir and Associated Works under Public Works Programme Item No.5660CL
(ACE EIA Paper 12/2000)

4. The Chairman welcomed SE/CED et. al. to the meeting. In response to the Chairman's enquiry, Atg. SE(Design)/WSD said that the fresh water service reservoir at Fa Peng would not be constructed until 2020 and so it would not be an opportune time to discuss it at the meeting. Atg. SE(Design)/WSD then began his presentation.

5. A Member asked whether the construction of the Yam O Tuk Fresh Water Service Reservoir required an environmental permit. In reply, SE/CED said that a permit was not required because it was not a designated project under the EIAO.

Exposed vs Underground Pipeline

6. The Chairman asked if it was a common practice for Hong Kong to construct exposed pipelines instead of underground ones for reservoirs. In reply, Atg. SE(Design)/WSD said that it would depend on the terrain conditions. In the present case, since the pipeline would traverse steep sloping ground which had a medium to high susceptibility to landslides, an exposed pipeline was better than an underground one. Furthermore, it would be easier to spot leakages in the case of exposed pipeline.

Environmental impact on stream courses and site selection

7. Noting that the access road to the reservoir would straddle two stream courses, the Chairman asked if the proponent had carried out any site inspections and ecological impact assessment to identify the preservation value of the stream courses and the area. In response, Atg. SE(Design)/WSD said that since it was not a designated project, an ecological study was not required. However, they had carried out site inspections at the work site and found that the vegetation was mainly common species.

8. On a Member's enquiry, LA/HyD said that the site inspections on existing vegetation were done by the field staff in the Landscape Unit of Highways Department. In response to the Chairman's concern on the stream courses, SLA/HyD said that although they had no expertise to undertake ecological study of the fauna or fresh water habitat, they did make effort to minimize the disturbance to the affected area, for example, by putting in place a short drainage culvert in a fill embankment at the point of the stream course to maintain natural water flow.

9. A Member recalled that when discussing the EIA report of the Northshore Lantau Development Feasibility Study, the location of the reservoir was chosen taking into consideration environmental concerns, so he was confused as to how the location could be determined without having conducted an ecological study. Atg. SE(Design)/WSD explained that the location was chosen in 1995 based on the following criteria :

  • must be situated between Siu Ho Wan Water Treatment Plant and Disney Land;
     
  • must be conveniently connected to the fresh watermains in Cheung Tung Road;
     
  • must be located in an area with adequate hydraulic pressure;
     
  • must be accessible by motor vehicles;
     
  • must have the least potential landscape and visual impacts.

In this regard, the current proposal was the nearest and most suitable site.
 

Action
10. The Chairman said that Members appreciated the constraints of site selection but it was the concern of the Subcommittee that environmental aspects should be taken into account when selecting the site. He asked the proponent to provide more details of the site selection, in particular, environmental considerations.

11. A Member said that the Authority should review whether such kind of projects should be categorized as designated projects because the environmental impacts could be substantial. Another Member wondered why the project, being part of the Disney project, was not a designated project in itself. In reply, AD(EA)/EPD said that there were two types of designated projects, one was under Schedule 2 of the EIAO which required an environmental permit for construction and the other was under Schedule 3 which dealt with development feasibility study. The Disney project was a Schedule 3 project and the reservoir was an individual project under the Northshore Lantau Development which however did not fall under Schedule 2.

12. A Member asked whether the reservoir could be located closer to Disney Land. Atg. SE(Design)/WSD replied that the location was so chosen in order to serve also the North Lantau Development area.

Measures to control construction site run-off

13. On the Chairman's enquiry, Atg. SE(Design)/WSD said that they would follow EPD's standard environmental pollution control clauses in the works contract. But it was envisaged that the site run-off at the initial stage of the construction would not be a concern because works would commence in early October 2001 when the dry season began. By the time the wet season started, the site drainage system would be in place to carry surface run-off from torrential rainfalls. During the construction stage, full-time professional and technical staff from WSD would station on site to supervise the work of the contractor.

14. Since Members did not have the control clauses at hand, the Chairman asked the proponent to briefly explain what measures the contractor would adopt to control site run-off. Atg. SE(Design)/WSD said that the contractor would build a temporary drainage line to collect the run-off to a designated location for de-silting before discharge. In addition, a permanent washout pipe would be constructed to collect all washed water arising from the cleansing of the proposed service reservoir for discharge into existing drainage culvert instead of stream courses.

15. A Member asked if there would be a second access road during construction or the same access road would be used for construction and maintenance. Atg. SE(Design)/WSD said that the same access road would be used for both purposes. That Member then asked why the 1.1km long access road looked much longer in the diagram than the 500m long pipelines. Atg. SE(Design)/WSD explained that it was the visual perception due to sloping angle.

16. A Member was concern why a 60m-wide work site was needed for a 3.5m-wide access road. SLA/HyD said that since a lot of slope works would be involved and adequate surface was needed to ensure effective mitigation planting on the slope, the 60m-wide work site was a conservative estimation of the area needed. Atg. SE(Design)/WSD supplemented that 60m was just a maximum estimate. The actual area would depend on the slope angle.

17. In response to a Member's enquiry, SLA/HyD said that the construction of the access road would not leave a landscape scar because the slope would be completely re-vegetated. However, she reminded Members that it would take 5 to 10 years for the re-vegetated planting to grow for effective screening.

18. A Member encouraged the proponent to use the species in Annex B of AFCD's reply dated 15 December 2000 which were proved to be more successful for re-vegetation. SLA/HyD said that a tree survey had just been completed and they would look for the species mix most suitable for the site. 19. The Chairman concluded that the proponent should pay particular attention to site run-off control and monitoring and re-vegetation to minimize environmental impacts.

20. A Member asked whether EPD would consider categorizing the construction of fresh water service reservoir as a designated project under Schedule 2 of the EIAO having regard to its large footprint which could have substantial impact on the environment. In response, AD(EA)/EPD said that Schedule 2 already covered a wide range of projects and compared with those, construction of a reservoir would be a minor project. Given existing resources, AD(EA)/EPD considered that the possibility of adding more project types to the list under Schedule 2 was quite remote.

Agenda Item 5 : Monthly Update of Applications under the EIA Ordinance

21. Members noted the monthly update of applications under the EIAO, the tentative schedule for submission to ACE EIA Subcommittee, and the lists for designated/non-designated projects not selected for submission (as at 25 November 2000).

Agenda Item 6 : Any Other Business

EM&A of Penny's Bay Reclamation Project

22. At the request of the Chairman, Consultant/MAL briefed Members on the progress works undertaken in Penny's Bay, the organization of environmental management and the impact on water quality in relation to Ma Wan fish culture zone.

23. In respect of works carrying out in Penny's Bay, Consultant/MAL said that it involved dredging of uncontaminated mud at Penny's Bay and disposal at the designated marine dumping sites as controlled by the conditions set out in the environmental permit. As regards the environmental management team, it was employed by the contractor and was responsible for environmental monitoring. The monitoring was supervised by Engineer's Representative and Mouchel acted as the Independent Checker to countercheck the monitoring data in accordance with the requirements set out in the environmental permit, EIAO and EM&A Manual. On water quality within Penny's Bay area, sensitive receiver's stations were set up at Kau Yi Chau, Ma Wan, and Discovery Bay; control stations were set up outside the range of impacts as predicted in the EIA report; gradient stations were set up between the works area and the sensitive receiver's stations. On water quality at East Lamma Channel, more sensitive receiver's stations, control stations and two stations were set up for 24-hour monitoring. All the monitoring data was made available for the public on the Penny's Bay website. Consultant/MAL said that significant increase in the amount of suspended solid (SS) had been detected within the site of the Penny's Bay works boundary and immediately outside the boundary. After the alleged fish kills, additional monitoring stations had been put between Penny's Bay and Cheung Sha Wan. However, no impact on the fish culture zone was recorded other than that predicted in the EIA report. After careful investigation by Mouchel and AFCD, it was concluded that the fish kills at Ma Wan and Cheung Sha Wan were not linked with Penny's Bay reclamation works. The contractor had nevertheless made an effort to minimize impact by putting in a silt curtain to isolate the works area and the Discovery Bay.

24. Noting that AFCD had conducted investigations into the alleged fish kills, the Chairman enquired about the findings. FO/AFCD said that fish samples from Ma Wan Fish Culture Zone were taken for analysis. It was found that the fish suffered from infection by bacteria and parasites and so far they were unable to find any evidence relating the fish kill to Penny's Bay reclamation works.

25. A Member noticed that the fishermen in Ma Wan had been granted ex-gratia allowance, he enquired about the criteria for granting such allowance. He also said that Friends of the Earth had carried out an independent one-day water sampling at Ma Wan and found that the level of SS was 65 mg/L, which was much higher than the worst case scenario of 39 mg/L predicted in the EIA report. FO/AFCD said that AFCD recorded on 15 September 2000 a SS level of 72 mg/L at Ma Wan fish culture zone. As for the criteria for granting ex-gratia allowance to mariculturists, they were as follows-

  • when the SS level reached 100% of the average SS level over the past 5 years; or
     
  • when SS level reached 50 mg/L; or
     
  • when dredging or dumping in marine borrow area or dumping ground was carried out within 5km from a fish culture zone (approved by the Finance Committee of the Legislative Council on December 1, 2000 with retrospective effect from March 15, 2000).

26. A Member followed up by asking how frequent the SS level exceeded 39 mg/L, i.e. the worst-case scenario predicted in the EIA report and what the average SS level was. Consultant/MAL said that it was a complicated question and he passed on to Members copies of the data from SR-7 which was the monitoring station at Ma Wan fish culture zone.

 

CED
27. The Chairman suggested that due to time constraint, Members should write to the Secretariat their residual concerns about the subject and request the proponent to reply in writing. DD(SD)/CED welcomed Members' enquiries and comments and said that all monitoring data was available on the internet for Members' quick reference.

28. A Member asked how often EPD checked the monitoring data to ensure its compliance with the statutory requirements. PEPO(AA)/EPD said that EPD's job was to enforce the conditions set out in the environmental permit. He personally had inspected the site several times in addition to regular inspections by his staff, including one specific day suggested by the fishermen. Random spot checking of sediment levels had not found so far any exceedances of the limit level set in the EM&A Manual..

29. The Chairman thanked DD(SD)/CED and his team for the briefing and hoped that the information from CED and the proponent would clarify the cause of the incident.


EIA Subcommittee Secretariat
December 2000

CED

 

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