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Environmental Measures and Outcomes

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Kai Tak Airport North Apron Decontamination

Project Description

Photo of Biopiles for the treatment of contaminated soil.
Biopiles for the treatment of contaminated soil.

Photo of Air Sparging and Soil Vapour Extraction in-situ treatment for contaminated soil.
Air Sparging and Soil Vapour Extraction in-situ treatment for contaminated soil.

Photo of Kai Tak Airport before decommissioning.
Kai Tak Airport before decommissioning.

With the new Hong Kong International Airport commissioned at Chek Lap Kok in July 1998, the disused Kai Tak Airport, an area of about 160 hectares, would be redeveloped as housing flats, offices, parks and community facilities for about 115,000 residents. Three hotspots in the Kai Tak Airport North Apron, totaling about 11 hectares, were found to be contaminated by jet fuel leakage and had to be cleaned up before redevelopment. The scale of this decontamination work was the largest of its kind ever undertaken in Hong Kong.

An Environmental Permit was issued on 23 September 1998 for this project, which was started on 26 October 1998. Key activities included decontamination of the airport site, demolition of buildings and site preparation. The project would be completed in 2001.

Mitigation Measures and Outcomes

  1. Soil Vapour Extraction and Air Sparging (SVE/AS) method was adopted to treat contaminated soil in-situ to avoid large-scale excavation and the associated escape of vaporized contaminants into the atmosphere.
  2. Heavily contaminated soil was excavated and treated in "biopiles", which were piles of soil lined with impervious plastic sheets on top and bottom to allow biodegradation of the contaminants while avoiding the escape of vaporized pollutants as well as containing any leachate runoff.
  3. The SVE/AS and biopile systems were connected to a catalytic incinerator by piping network to burn off any pollutants in the extracted soil vapour.
  4. Proper soil decontamination using these two methods protected about 700,000 people, including workers and nearby residents, from any excessive air pollutants and noise impacts associated with other cleanup methods that employ large-scale excavation.
  5. Good housekeeping measures were adopted on site to include:
    • Scheduling excavation work to avoid the rainy season in order to reduce the potential of generating contaminated surface runoff.
    • Using quieter plants to reduce construction noise impact.
    • Watering to suppress dust during the demolition stage.
    • Collecting all waste, including chemical wastes and oil, by licensed chemical waste contractors.
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