Environmental Protection Department Environmental Performance Report 2004 Environmental Performance Report 2004
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Our Own Operations
  6.2  Minimising the Impacts of Our Operations

Waste Facilities

The EPD’s major impact on the environment comes from the operation of 29 waste facilities. Contractors are required to operate the facilities to a high environmental standard, through both contractual requirements and statutory controls. Contractors must comply with all applicable environmental ordinances, regulations and emission requirements, and ideally exceed them. They must also monitor air, noise and wastewater emissions from waste facilities, under the supervision of the EPD. Since 1989, a provision has been included in waste facilities contracts to deduct payment for non-compliance with environmental controls.

The Waste Facilities Business Unit renewed the ISO 14001 certification of its environmental management system (EMS) in 2003. This system aims to develop and promote a sustainable waste management strategy and to plan and provide for waste management facilities in Hong Kong. The EPD has also persuaded waste facility contractors to implement similar EMSs to further enhance the environmental performance of these facilities. All 12 restored landfills, the Northwest New Territories refuse transfer station and the Sha Ling Composting Plant have ISO 14001 certification of their EMSs. In 2003, certification was achieved for Sha Tin refuse transfer station, seven transfer facilities in outlying islands, and the Northeast New Territories Landfill.


There were no environmental prosecutions taken against any of the EPD’s waste management contractors in 2003. The contractors also achieved 99.995% compliance with contractual environmental requirements, similar to 2002. Each non-compliance was thoroughly investigated and remedial action instigated.


27 complaints were received against waste facilities in 2003, concerning odour, noise and fly nuisance. All complaints were dealt with promptly (see 5.3 Effective Enforcement and Emergency Response for details of our complaints response system).

We aim to avoid, reduce and control pollution arising from our day-to-day working practices. We will require our contractors to adopt and implement sound environmental management systems and pollution control measures.

We will provide leadership by complying with not only the letter, but also the spirit of all applicable environmental legislation, standards and regulations, as well as our internal guidelines and procedures. We will endeavour to surpass the applicable environmental legislation, standards and regulations, whenever possible.

We have an emergency response system for handling environmental incidents, and are prepared to respond quickly to minimise the damage to the environment.


Pollution Control

All new landfills are installed with gas extraction systems, and old landfills are being retrofitted. Monitoring is conducted at the boundaries of the landfills to ensure landfill gas does not escape. In 2003, an average 0.5 million m3 of landfill gas was collected daily, 47 % of which was used to meet nearly all on-site energy consumption. Electricity generators with a total capacity of 6.4 MW have been installed at landfills. In 2003, the EPD was preparing a programme to sell landfill gas from the North East New Territories (NENT) Landfill to public utilities operators.

A construction waste recycling plant has been operating at the South East New Territories (SENT) Landfill since 1995, to sort and recycle construction waste for beneficial reuse and reduce the amount of waste taking up landfill space. At present, the plant recycles about 22 500 tonnes of construction waste monthly, representing 15% of the total construction waste intake at the landfill. The EPD proposed a charging scheme in 2003 to increase recycling and recover the costs of handling construction waste (see 5.2e Environmentally Sound Waste Management and Facilities for details).

Refuse transfer stations
Refuse transfer stations (RTSs) reduce the environmental impact of transporting waste to landfills. Small refuse collection vehicles (RCVs) deliver waste to the RTSs where it is transferred into bulk waste containers that are taken to landfills either by road or by sea. Each container can accommodate three to five RCV-loads. In 2003, about 1 200 RCV trips to landfills were eliminated each day.

Hong Kong has eight RTSs, located mostly in built-up areas. Ventilation and odour removal systems have been installed to reduce dust and odour from the exhaust air. The Island West RTS is located within a man-made cavern under Mount Davis which not only reduces its visual impact, but takes up less land space.

Chemical Waste Treatment Centre (CWTC)
The CWTC has been operating on Tsing Yi Island since 1993. Stack gas from the incineration system is scrubbed and a spray dry absorber, activated carbon injection and fabric filter baghouses are used to remove pollutants prior to release into the atmosphere. The gas is monitored continuously to ensure complete combustion and removal of air pollutants. In the event of any problem, waste feed to the incinerator will be cut off automatically.

The ambient air around the CWTC is monitored twice yearly and a measurement of dioxins is carried out monthly. The results are lower than or comparable to levels observed in other large cities around the world. All process residues, including incineration ash, are chemically treated and confirmed by analysis to be stable before being taken to the SENT landfill for final disposal.

Environmentally friendly practices are encouraged by allowing the contractor to keep revenue from the sale of materials recovered from waste. Oil recovered from oily wastewater is blended and used by ocean-going vessels as recovered fuel oil. Copper oxide recovered from waste etchant generated by the electronics industry is sent to overseas smelters to recover the copper. In 2003, 6 200 tonnes of oil and 510 tonnes of copper oxide were recovered by the CWTC.

The EPD’s laboratories (for air, water sciences and microbiology) are operated in a manner that minimises the impact on the environment. The laboratories comply with the legal requirements and statutory licence conditions. Regular maintenance and monitoring programmes are in place to ensure full compliance. In 2003, routine monitoring of effluent discharges and annual monitoring of emissions from fume cupboards indicated full compliance.

Indoor air quality
The Government introduced an Indoor Air Quality Certification Scheme for Offices and Public Places in September 2003. Certification is open to offices or public places which are served by mechanical ventilation and air conditioning systems and met the indoor air quality (IAQ) requirements specified in the scheme. The first premises to receive an Excellent Class IAQ Certificate was the EPD's Indoor Air Quality Information Centre. By the end of 2003, 4 other EPD premises including Southorn Centre, Revenue Tower, Tsuen Wan Government Offices and the Wanchai Environmental Resource Centre were awarded with Good Class IAQ Certificates. The goal is to have all EPD premises certified.

(Left) The EPD Indoor Air Quality Information Centre is the first to be awarded an Excellent Class Certificate.
(Right) A sample of the Indoor Air Quality Excellent Class Certificate.
(Left)   The EPD Indoor Air Quality Information Centre is the first premises awarded an Excellent Class IAQ Certificate.
(Right)   A sample of the Excellent Class Indoor Air Quality Certificate.

Field work
Only non-toxic dye is used to trace pollution sources, to minimise the environmental impacts of investigations. Field samples are sent to the laboratories for appropriate action. Safety guidelines are issued to all field staff who are trained in the handling of hazardous materials.


Emergency Response

The EPD has internal emergency response plans for its operations, in particular waste facilities and laboratories. At landfills, the plans cover predictable events such as the unavailability of certain landfills or refuse transfer stations due to power failure, as well as road blockages arising from traffic accidents, congestion, chemical waste spills, etc.

Four emergency drills were carried out at the CWTC in 2003. The EPD requires the CWTC contractor to carry out at least one drill on marine incidents every year.

For EPD laboratories, no incidents were reported in 2003.

Measures Adopted to Prevent Pollution from EPD’s Laboratories

Legal measures
All necessary licences and permits under the law (e.g. Water Pollution Control Ordinance (WPCO), Waste Disposal Ordinance (WDO)) are obtained and the stipulated conditions are strictly adhered to. The EPD encourages contractors to exceed the legal requirements wherever possible.

Air pollution
Emissions from fume cupboards and safety cabinets are scrubbed or filtered as required to remove pollutants before release into the atmosphere. Laboratories are installed with exhaust hoods which operate round the clock to dilute and extract any emissions of calibration gases (such as carbon monoxide, sulphur dioxide and nitrogen oxides) to roof level for discharge.

Water pollution
The EPD’s laboratory sinks are fitted with buffer tanks to prevent the accidental discharge of unsuitable substances into the sewers. A sink used for handling asbestos is also fitted with a filter to remove asbestos from wastewater.

Emissions from fume cupboards and discharges from sinks are monitored regularly to ensure they comply with the required standards in 2003.

Hazardous waste
Chemical waste is properly treated and disposed of by the CWTC contractor. Biological waste is disinfected and disposed of in accordance with World Health Organisation guidelines. A licensed collector is engaged to deliver asbestos samples from the air laboratory to the SENT landfill for disposal.

Emergency spill kits are provided in all EPD laboratories and staff are trained to deal with accidental spills. The general procedures for handling chemical spillage/leakage are documented in the laboratory environmental and safety manuals.

Environmental audits of EPD laboratories are carried out regularly by laboratory staff and supplemented with annual audits as required by the EPD's Environment, Safety and Health Unit.

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