Advisory Council on the Environment

Confirmed Minutes of the 94th Meeting of the Advisory Council on the Environment held on 26 March 2002 at 2:30 p.m.


Mr. Peter H. Y. WONG, GBS, JP (Chairman)  
Mr. Daniel M. C. CHENG  
Mr. Edward S. T. HO, SBS, JP  
Dr. HO Kin-chung  
Mr. KWOK Kwok-chuen, BBS  
Prof. LAM Kin-che (EIA Subcommittee Chairman)  
Mr. Peter Y. C. LEE  
Mr. LIN Chaan-ming  
Dr. NG Cho-nam  
Mrs. Mei NG  
Mr. Otto L. T. POON  
Ms. Iris TAM  
Miss Alex YAU  
Ms. Jessie WONG (Secretary)  

Absent with Apologies:
Mr. Barrie COOK
Prof. Anthony HEDLEY, BBS, JP
Prof. Peter HILLS
Prof. Dennis S. C. LAM
Dr. LEONG Che-hung, GBS, JP
Mr. PAO Ping-wing, JP
Mr. Michael J. D. RUSHWORTH
Prof. WONG Yuk-shan, JP
Mr. LOH Ah Tuan


In Attendance:

Mrs. Lily YAM, JP Secretary for the Environment and Food (SEF)
Mr. Thomas CHOW Deputy Secretary (C), Environment and Food Bureau (EFB)
Mr. Donald TONG Deputy Secretary (B), EFB (DS(B)/EFB)
Mr. C C LAY Assistant Director (Conservation), Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department (AFCD)
Dr. Constance CHAN Assistant Director, Department of Health
Mr. P K CHUNG Acting Assistant Director (Technical Services), Planning Department (Plan D) (Atg.AD(TS)/PlanD)
Mrs. Pauline LING Chief Information Officer, EFB
Ms. Polly LEUNG Principal Information Officer, Environmental Protection Department (EPD)
Miss Petula POON Chief Executive Officer (C), EFB
Ms. Cora SO Executive Officer (C), EFB

In Attendance for Agenda Item 3

Mr. Elvis AU Assistant Director (Environmental Assessment & Noise), EPD (AD(EA)/EPD)

In Attendance for Agenda Item 5

Ms. Annie CHOI Principal Assistant Secretary (B)2, EFB (PAS(B)2/EFB)
Dr. Ellen CHAN Assistant Director (Waste Facilities), EPD (AD(WF)/EPD)

In Attendance for Agenda Item 6

Ms. S C LAU Chief Town Planner/Planning Standards & Studies, Plan D (CTP(SS)/PlanD)
Mr. Phil WRIGHT Townland Consultants (C/Townland)
Ms. Jennifer WAN Townland Consultants (C2/Townland)


The Chairman suggested deferring the discussion of agenda item 4 on "Opening up of ACE meetings to the public" to the next meeting in view of the number of Members absent.

Agenda Item 1 : Confirmation of Minutes of the 93rd Meeting held on 26 February 2002

2. The minutes of the last meeting were confirmed subject to the amendments to paras 49 and 50 proposed by a Member.

Agenda Item 2 : Matters Arising

Para. 3 - Progress of the work of the Task Force (Black Spots)

3. The Chairman informed the meeting that the Task Force would give Members a briefing in May.

Para. 64 - Development plan for Tai A Chau

4. Atg.AD(TS)/PlanD informed the meeting that the development potential and the conservation value of Soko Islands including Tai A Chau and Siu A Chau were recognized by the Recommended Development Strategy of the South West New Territories Development Strategy Review published in July 2001. Those areas had been included in the study area of the South Lantau and Mui Wo Development Feasibility Study to be commissioned by Plan D and Territory Development Department in mid-2002. The study would look into the development potential and the conservation value of Tai A Chau. The Council received a briefing on the scope and objectives of that study in November 2001 and would be further consulted in future.

Agenda Item 3 : Report of the 68th and 69th Meetings of the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) Subcommittee
(ACE Paper 10/2002)

5. The EIA Subcommittee Chairman reported that the Subcommittee had considered three EIA reports at its meetings held on 4 and 18 March 2002, namely Yau Tong Bay Development - Reclamation of Yau Tong Bay, Yau Tong Bay Development - Engineering Feasibility Study for the Comprehensive Development at Yau Tong Bay, and Decommissioning of Cheoy Lee Shipyard at Penny's Bay. He firstly summarised the concerns expressed by Members at the meeting of the Subcommittee on the first two reports, and drew Members' attention to the recommendations of the Subcommittee set out in para. 19 of the ACE Paper.

EIAs on Yau Tong Bay Development

6. The Chairman enquired about the timing for deciding the ultimate alignment of the Western Coast Road. In response, a Member said that according to her understanding, the proposed Western Coast Road was included in the Tseung Kwan O Intensification Study which would be commissioned within the year but she was not certain about the completion date of the study.

7. The Chairman proposed and Members agreed to endorse the two EIA reports on Yau Tong Bay Development with conditions as recommended by the Subcommittee in the ACE Paper. The Council also agreed that, although strictly outside their remit, the "minimum reclamation" option for Yau Tong Bay reclamation was their preferred option.

EIA on decommissioning of Cheoy Lee Shipyard

8. The Chairman drew Members' attention to para. 24 of the ACE Paper regarding the declaration of interest by Mr. Lin Chaan-ming and ruled that although he could join in the discussions, he should abstain from voting if voting was necessary. The Chairman also declared interest as the Disney company was one of the clients of his firm. Members agreed that the Chairman could continue to chair the discussion but should abstain from voting if voting was necessary.

9. The EIA Subcommittee Chariman summarized the discussion and the major concerns expressed by Members at the meetings of the Subcommittee. He drew Members' attention to para. 47 (a) to (e) of the ACE Paper on the conditions recommended by the Subcommittee if the EIA report was to be endorsed.

10. The Chairman invited Members' views about the EIA report and the recommendations of the Subcommittee. A Member said that she had doubts about the integrity and the completeness of the EIA report due to the following reasons:

  1. There were inconsistencies between the information given to the Subcommittee and the Legislative Council Panel on Environmental Affairs. The cost of the thermal desorption process for dioxin decontamination was quoted as $350M in the briefing to the Subcommittee but $450M to the Panel.
  2. The comparison of alternative technologies for treating dioxin was not sufficiently detailed and not exhaustive. Certain technologies, e.g. base catalyzed dechlorination, were not included in the assessment.
  3. The option of on-site treatment was ruled out not because of environmental considerations but the planned timeframe for the opening of the Theme Park.
  4. The proposed monitoring on emissions from the thermal desorption plant was inadequate and the reliability of the indirect method to check the effectiveness of the plant was doubtful.
  5. Latest media reports stated that about one-third of the monitoring data of the Tsing Yi Chemical Waste Treatment Center (CWTC) were not validated. The performance of CWTC and the quality of management, and in turn its reliability to treat dioxin condensate after thermal desorption were therefore in doubt.
  6. Some information presented to the Subcommittee was not included in the EIA report but provided only upon Members' request.

Treatability test

11. A Member enquired about the implications if the treatability test on thermal desorption failed. He also asked whether the treatability test mentioned in paras. 33 and para. 47(a) of the ACE Paper referred to the same test. In response, another Member explained that the purpose of the treatability test mentioned in para. 47(a) was for fine-tuning the thermal desorption process for treating contaminated soil of different dioxin concentration efficiently. Para. 33 of the paper referred to the treatability test on chemical dechlorination. The second Member emphasized that the feasibility of thermal desorption for dioxin decontamination had already been confirmed and there was no case that the treatability test would fail.

Oily residue

12. A Member asked how the oily residue in para 32 of the ACE Paper was formed. In reply, the EIA Subcommittee Chairman explained that the residue was formed by the carrier oil used in the process of base catalyzed dechlorination. The Subcommittee did not recommend base catalyzed dechlorination for treating the dioxin condensate generated by thermal desorption.

Risk assessment of transportation of contaminated materials

13. In response to a Member's enquiry, the EIA Subcommittee Chairman read out the following figures provided by the project proponent on the risk assessment of transportation of contaminated materials:

  1. Risk of spillage during transportation of dioxin-contaminated soil from the Shipyard to To Kau Wan : 12 order of magnitude below standard of 1 x 10-6
  2. Risk of explosion during transportation of dioxin-contaminated soil from the Shipyard to To Kau Wan : 9 order of magnitude below standard of 1 x 10-6
  3. Risk of spillage during transportation of dioxin condensate after thermal desorption from To Kau Wan to CWTC : 8 order of magnitude below standard
  4. Risk of explosion during transportation of dioxin condensate from To Kau Wan to CWTC : 7 order of magnitude below standard

14. In response to the Chairman's enquiry, AD(EA)/EPD said that the risk assessment figures were based on standards adopted by the United States Environmental Protection Agency.

Chemical Waste Treatment Centre

15. In response to a Member's enquiry about the performance of CWTC, another Member said that according to past monitoring data, there had been two cases of non-compliance of emission standards at CWTC. DS(B)/EFB clarified that out of the four incidents reported recently by the Economic Journal, two were due to mistakes when uploading information onto the EPD website. The other two incidents were cases in which the data was not validated due to problems in the process of collecting the emission samples. To address these problems, he understood that EPD had already modified the sample collection practices whereby samplings were done in the beginning rather than the end of the month so as to allow more flexibility in case similar validation problems emerged again in future.


16. The EIA Subcommittee Chairman informed Members that the incidents mentioned above had also been raised at the Subcommittee meeting. The project proponent had assured Members that CWTC was capable of handling dioxin condensate. The monitoring on dioxin emission at CWTC would be conducted monthly and would be adjusted depending on the readings. There would also be continuous monitoring on emission of carbon monoxide which was an indicative surrogate gas to test the completeness of combustion. The project proponent also provided a contingency plan in case of exceedances. The operation would stop if there was a serious problem. The Chairman requested EPD to submit a written account of the incidents and the remedial actions taken and to demonstrate the reliability of CWTC.

Base catalyzed dechlorination

17. A Member queried whether base catalyzed dechlorination should be ruled out as an alternative to incineration for treating dioxin condensate simply because of the absence at the present moment of a local licensed oil recycler to collect and treat the waste oil generated from the process. She said that according to an international expert who was involved in the decontamination of the Sydney Olympic Games site, base catalyzed dechlorination was a technology widely adopted in the United States. The setting up of the thermal desorption and base catalyzed dechlorination plants at the same site could avoid the risks associated with the transportation of dioxin condensate.

18. In response, the EIA Subcommittee Chairman pointed out that there were other reasons presented by the project proponent in eliminating the option of base catalyzed dechlorination. It was noted that the technology had lower destruction efficiency and produced more chemical residues as compared to incineration, resulting in double handling of residue wastes. There were also no proven records of the technology for large-scale projects.

Factors of consideration

19. A Member said that the option of gas phase chemical reduction which was a technology adopted in the United States was not assessed in the EIA report. In response, another Member pointed out that the technology was mentioned at the Subcommittee meeting. The project proponent dismissed that option because it was a bulky process and was not suitable for Hong Kong. The first Member disagreed that factors like bulkiness or time constraint should over-ride transportation risk which would endanger human health. A third Member informed Members that the risk in the worst-case scenario was 272 cancer cases in 10,000 population in direct contact with dioxin for 30 years. He was convinced that with the proposed safety measures including sealing the contaminated soil in roll-off trucks, strict speed limit control and transportation under escorts, the transportation risk should be negligible.

Rice fish

20. The Chairman noted that though rice fish was not found during the EIA, the project proponent proposed to re-create suitable habitats at the Mong Tung Hang Stream and introduce the fish to the re-created habitats. The mitigation measure was solely an initiative of the project proponent and should not therefore be made a condition of ACE's endorsement.

21. Noting that the Subcommittee proposed to extend the monitoring of rice fish from one year to three years, a Member asked whether further follow-up actions were required if the rice fish disappeared after the monitoring period. In response, the EIA Subcommittee Chairman said that the project proponent was only required to monitor the fish, it would not be held responsible for the disappearance of the fish as it was not found during the EIA study.

Decommissioning of the thermal desorption plant

22. A Member suggested adding a condition to ensure that the project proponent would properly clean up the site of the thermal desorption plant. In response, the EIA Subcommittee Chairman informed the meeting that the decommissioning of the thermal desorption plant was already included in the EIA report. The project proponent had committed to taking soil samples before commencement of the project and after the decommissioning of the plant to ensure that the site was decontaminated properly.

23. A Member commented that some factors considered in the EIA report were not environmental concerns and she supported endorsing the report with conditions. Having regard to the community concern about the impacts of dioxin, she suggested that the monitoring of dioxin emission at the thermal desorption plant should be carried out at least once a month for the duration of the project. Members agreed.


24. The Chairman proposed endorsing the EIA report with the conditions set out in para. 47 of ACE Paper 10/2002 and the additional condition proposed by Miss Yau in para. 23 above. Members agreed to the proposal while a Member objected to the EIA report.


Laboratory test

25. In reply to a Member's enquiry, the Chairman said that at present there was no laboratory in Hong Kong which could carry out dioxin tests. Therefore, dioxin samples had to be sent to the United States for testing. That Member said that in the long run Hong Kong should have its own laboratory for dioxin tests. In response, DS(B)/EFB informed the meeting that an academic institution in Hong Kong had expressed interest to the Government in setting up a local dioxin testing facility. EPD would keep Members posted.

[A Member left the meeting at this juncture.]


Monitoring system on potential contaminated sites.

26. A Member relayed another Member's concern that there might be other contaminated sites like the Cheoy Lee Shipyard which were not brought to proper attention until development projects came into play and problems identified in the EIA process. She proposed on that other's behalf to have a detailed discussion at future meetings on how to strengthen the monitoring system on potential contaminated sites.



27. A Member echoed that other Member's concern and queried whether EPD had failed to monitor the activities of the Cheoy Lee Shipyard in the past. She requested a report from EPD on why such activities had been missed from their monitoring. The report should also list out potential contaminated sites in Hong Kong, and actions that should be taken in stepping up monitoring of those activities. She considered it high time that the Government should draw up specific legislation on land contamination, in particular, the responsibility and liability to clean up contamination. Another Member concurred with that Member's remarks on land contamination legislation. He pointed out that garages along Kam Tin Road generated much oily wastes which should be properly treated and disposed of. However, the operators did not consider themselves responsible for proper disposal of the oily wastes. The Government should strengthen public education on that front.


Expertise advice

28. A Member suggested that the Council should consider setting up a mechanism to invite experts to brief Members on specific issues such as dioxin decontamination. The EIA Subcommittee Chairman saw the merits of Mrs. Ng's suggestion and said that such advice could be sought from independent experts on a case-by-case basis. In response, the Chairman said that it was difficult to ascertain the objectivity of experts. He would rather look upon EPD as the unbiased agency to offer expert advice to the Council when required provided that the department would keep abreast of new developments in different technologies. In response, AD(EA)/EPD confirmed that EPD kept in touch with overseas counterparts and was aware of new technologies being developed in other countries.

Agenda Item 5: Inviting Expressions of Interest in Providing Integrated Waste Treatment Facility(ies)
(ACE Paper 8/2002)

29. The Chairman welcomed PAS(B)2/EFB and AD(WF)/EPD to the meeting. PAS(B)2/EFB briefed Members on the paper.

Provision of information

30. A Member said that it was highly unusual for an Expressions of Interest to provide detailed commercial and financial information as it would not be binding as in the formal tender. He queried whether such information could be relied upon in the short listing exercise. The Chairman commented that those who responded to the invitation might be reluctant to disclose detailed commercial and financial information on the proposed technology/facility. In response, PAS(B)2/EFB said that the invitation document would set out clearly information that should be provided by interested parties for assessment purpose. Respondents would be asked to state clearly if there was any information in their submissions that should be kept confidential.

31. A Member considered that the Administration might have difficulty in verifying the financial information. Another Member suggested that the parties should be required to provide references of the proposed technologies/facilities so that the Administration could check the proposal against similar technologies/facilities in operation. In response, PAS(B)2/EFB explained that though the provision of financial information was not mandatory, such information was essential for assessing the cost-effectiveness of the proposals. The Administration was aware of the difficulties in verifying the financial information provided but would try to do so through contact with other related parties.

Integrated facilities

32. A Member was concerned that the term "integrated" would mean a combination of technologies/facilities to handle all kinds of wastes and that single treatment technology(ies) would not be welcomed. In response, PAS(B)2/EFB said that the Expression of Interest (EoI) exercise aimed to gather information on technologies that could handle large quantities of waste, whether they were single or integrated technologies. At this early stage of technology search, it would be desirable to allow a higher degree of flexibility. AD(WF)/EPD supplemented that there were overseas examples of integrated waste facilities which comprised mechanical sorting of wastes, organic treatment, energy recovery, and recycling of residues. Different combinations of technologies and facilities would be considered.

33. A Member urged the Administration to select different companies that specialized in recycling different materials instead of just one company so as to ensure cost effectiveness. In response, PAS(B)2/EFB clarified that the EoI exercise was not limited to recycling facilities. Also, the EoI exercise was not a tender exercise and no companies would be selected for construction and operation of the facilities at the present stage. However, to ensure cost effectiveness, the economic viability of the proposals would be one of the assessment criteria.

34. In response to a Member's enquiry, PAS(B)2/EFB said that there were integrated waste treatment facilities in the Unites States, Europe, Australia, Japan and other countries. The invitation would thus be extended to the international waste management industry.

35. The Chairman urged the Administration to keep an open mind in the exercise to avoid ruling out innovative proposals.

36. A Member supported the EoI approach, as it was an effective way to gather information on the latest technologies for handling wastes.

37. A Member also supported the EoI exercise. He suggested that to encourage innovative proposals, the Administration should make it very clear that the exercise was not confined to big integrated waste treatment technologies/facilities but would also welcome non-integrated types of treatment technologies.

38. A Member suggested that the Government should provide a kick-off grant and set up a non-profit-making recycling board to co-ordinate the collection and recycling of different kinds of waste. The board should include representatives from the recycling industries. In response, DS(B)/EFB said that we could not count on any single measure to deal with the waste problem. The Government recognized that the importance of recycling and had already introduced a series of measures last year to encourage and facilitate recycling. However, we could not count on recycling alone and hence we now invited the waste management industry to offer us proposals to treat the large volume of unrecyclable waste. As regards possible collaboration with the recycling industries, DS(B)/EFB pointed out that EPD and various working groups under the Waste Reduction Committee were keeping close contact with the industry for exchange of information on the latest development of technology and for identifying areas for cooperation.

Legislative support

39. A Member said that from the Council's study visit to Europe last year, he noted that good technologies could not be implemented without legislative support. He suggested that the interested parties should be encouraged to propose amendments to related legislation if that could facilitate the implementation of their proposals. Echoing that Member's point, the Chairman said that in addition to legislative support, community acceptance was also crucial to the successful implementation of waste treatment proposals.


40. Noting that the estimated earliest commencement time for the selected facilities was 2012, a Member expressed concern that they might not help address the landfill problem to a significant extent. In response, PAS(B)2/EFB explained that the timetable only served as a rough indication. Upon the completion of the EoI exercise, a number of processes like public consultation, funding application, EIA, tendering, detailed design and construction of the facilities would follow and the Administration would try to shorten the time required for each process.

41. In response to a Member's enquiry, PAS(B)2/EFB said that the tendering exercise would take place after the EIA process. That Member commented that it would seem unfair to the tenderers if the selected technology/facility was patented. AD(WF)/EPD responded that a technology/facility was unlikely to be patented though a particular process or material used in a technology might be, but that would not do the tenderers any injustice.

42. SEF informed Members that when the Waste Reduction Framework Plan was released in 1998, the recommended approach was to adopt waste-to-energy as the bulk waste reduction method. However, in the light of rapid development of waste treatment technologies and the changing aspirations of the community in environmental protection, the Administration considered it appropriate to search for a suitable technology or combination of technologies that would best suit Hong Kong through the EoI exercise. She agreed that the word "integrated" might cause confusion. As regards the assessment mechanism, an Advisory Group would be set up to evaluate the submissions with assistance provided by EPD. She appreciated Members' concern about the proposed timetable but pointed out that the site selection process might take up a great deal of time given the public sentiment on the location of waste treatment facilities. That said, the timetable required adjustment and the Administration would try to expedite the whole process as far as practicable.

Landfill charging scheme

43. A Member enquired about the implementation date of the proposed landfill charging scheme and expressed concern about the difficulties in charging operators of ad-hoc renovation work. In response, PAS(B)2/EFB said that they would submit the proposed landfill charging scheme to the Legislative Council in the coming months. Upon Legislative Council's agreement to the proposal, the scheme could be implemented within 12 to 16 months. Regarding ad hoc renovation work, PAS(B)2/EFB pointed out that it was impossible to identify the waste producers due to the ad-hoc and diverse nature of such work. Therefore, a charge could only be levied at the landfill gate.

44. On renovation waste, a Member said that residents/waste producers had to pay for the collection and disposal of the waste even now. Hence, the waste haulers' concern of bad debts was not justified.

45. The Chairman asked whether the landfill charge of $125 per tonne was based on the value of agricultural or residential land. In reply, PAS(B)2/EFB said that the figure included only the capital and operating costs of the three landfills and no land cost had been included. The charge would amount to $205 per tonne if the value of agricultural land was included.

46. The Chairman thanked PAS(B)2/EFB and AD(WF)/EPD for the briefing and concluded that the Council fully supported the EoI exercise and the landfill charging scheme. [The Chairman handed over the chair to Prof. Lam Kin-che and left the meeting at this juncture.]

Agenda Item 6: Study on Planning for Pedestrians
(ACE Paper 11/2002)

47. The Acting Chairman welcomed CTP(SS)/PlanD, C/Townland and C2/Toweland to the meeting. CTP(SS)/PlanD introduced the Study and C/Townland gave a presentation on the details of the study.

48. A Member noted that trees were proposed as part of street furniture but pointed out that Hong Kong was short of trees. He suggested that greater emphasis should be given for the provision of trees in the proposed pedestrian planning standards and guidelines to be developed in the study.

49. The Acting Chairman enquired about the difficulties in adopting a holistic approach for pedestrian planning. In response, C/Townland said that the major difficulty was that too many agencies were involved in the process. Hence, successful pedestrian planning would hinge on the availability of a single body which had a clear mission of the objective and would coordinate the efforts of all agencies concerned. It was anticipated that the second stage of the study would come up with a more definite proposal on how pedestrian planning would be carried out.

50. A Member welcomed the study but commented that to present a full picture of the issue to the public, not only the benefits of pedestrian planning but also the trade-offs of parties concerned should be included in the consultation document. C/Townland agreed with that Member's comments and said that the possible impacts of pedestrian planning to stakeholders would be set out in the second stage of the study.

51. In response to the Acting Chairman's question, CTP(SS)/PlanD confirmed that the public and the relevant stakeholders would be consulted on the implementation in the second stage of the study.

52. A Member welcomed the study and urged Plan D to look at the subject in a broader context to include areas other than pavements. She suggested better planning and management of road repairs which were usually a source of noise and odour nuisance; better management of bus stops to minimize the impacts of emissions from idling vehicles on pedestrians; visual enhancement of refuse transfer stations and parking lots; setting up city information signposts at strategic locations; more thoughts be given to the colour scheme of pavements; and better management of urban tree planting and maintenance.

53. A Member suggested that Plan D should conduct a pilot scheme on selected sites to demonstrate the planning concept so that the public and the stakeholders could have a better understanding of the benefits and trade-offs of pedestrian planning. Another Member suggested that a task force should be set up to co-ordinate the pilot scheme.

54. In response to the first Member's question, C/Townland said that the second stage of the study was expected to be completed in November 2002.

55. The Acting Chairman asked whether the potential use of underground space had been explored in the study. In response, C/Townland said that the study had looked into that aspect and had made reference to successful cases in Japan.

56. The Acting Chairman thanked the team for the briefing and for the opportunity to comment on the study.

Agenda Item 7 : Proposed Clinical Waste Control Scheme

57. The Acting Chairman suggested and Members agreed to defer the item to the next meeting.

Agenda Item 8 : Any Other Business

Tentative items for discussion at the next meeting

58. The Acting Chairman informed the meeting that the Annual Report of the Waste Reduction Committee and a briefing by the Green Council on the operation of the Hong Kong Green Label Scheme were tentatively scheduled for discussion at the next meeting.

Agenda Item 9 : Date of Next Meeting

59. The next meeting was scheduled for Monday, 29 April 2002.


ACE Secretariat
April 2002




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