Environment Bureau Environmental Protection Department ENVIRONMENT HONG KONG 2008
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11 Environmental Compliance

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Real Time Monitoring

The control of dumping at sea is complicated because the Environmental Protection Department (EPD) has to monitor dumping activities across the large area of sea contained within Hong Kong's boundaries. Until recently, our main tool for supplementing vigorous site surveillance was automatic self-monitoring devices on board vessels, which provide information about changes in the draught and position of dumping vessels but nonetheless require EPD staff to board each vessel for data retrieval. New technology, however, provides an effective means to detect illegal dumping activities for timely follow-up action and help safeguard the marine environment.

The EPD has developed a Real Time Tracking and Monitoring of Vessels (RTTMV) system that uses GPS telemetry technology, a mobile telephone network, and computerised data capturing and transmission devices. A unit is installed on board vessels that records their position, draught and other operational information, and sends it via the mobile phone network to an EPD control centre for analysis. Contractors and dumping operators can access the same data for free on-line via a dedicated, secure web site. The system was required in the permits for vessels working on the Civil Engineering and Development Department's Export of Construction and Demolition Materials project in 2007, and will be extended to all other marine dumping vessels in 2008.

A dumping vessel at sea.

A dumping vessel at sea.

GPS infomation as seen on the RTTMV system.

GPS infomation as seen on the RTTMV system.

Electronic Waste

The EPD is increasing collaborations with its overseas and Mainland counterparts and other Government departments to strengthen control over the transboundary movement of waste. One of the major areas of concern is electronic waste, which can contain hazardous components such as cathode ray tubes. Several cases arose in 2007 that highlighted the positive results of our efforts.

EPD field officers inspect a truckload of imported electronic waste.

EPD field officers inspect a truckload of imported electronic waste.
Eight containers of electronic waste were returned to Japan after the Customs and Excise Department detected the illegal shipment. Japan's Ministry of Environment had agreed to take back the shipment because it violated Hong Kong's Waste Disposal Ordinance. A separate shipment containing waste computer monitors was prevented from entering Hong Kong with the assistance of authorities in the Netherlands. In a third case the EPD worked with the Police and Marine Department to intercept 4 000 waste computer monitors from a Mainland-bound vessel in Chai Wan. During the same operation, two containers containing suspected chemical waste were caught being unloaded from an unrelated vessel.


Prosecutions are carried out in the most severe cases or where operators refuse to comply. In 2007 479 prosecutions were launched and there were 442 convictions. Almost half the convictions (211) related to air pollution, 149 to waste disposal, and the remainder to noise, water pollution, ozone layer protection and environmental impact assessment.