Following is a question by the Hon Albert Chan and a written reply by the Acting Secretary for Planning and Lands, Mr Thomas Tso, in the Legislative Council today (May 15):
It has been reported that while the cost estimate for decommissioning Cheoy Lee Shipyard at Penny's Bay was $22 million in 1999, the latest estimate stands at $450 million, representing a discrepancy of more than twenty times. This is attributable mainly to the Government's failure to foresee, when the estimation was first made, the need to deploy huge resources to remove the toxic dioxin which has contaminated the land. In this connection, will the Government inform this Council:
(a) of the existing industrial sites, with a breakdown by their sizes and the regions in which they are located;
(b) whether it has adopted specific measures to ensure that users of industrial sites will prevent the land from being contaminated; if so, whether it has reviewed the effectiveness of those measures; if not, of the reasons for that; and
(c) in granting industrial sites to operators of power plants, sludge treatment facilities, shipyards and iron and steel plants, whether it has specified terms to prohibit users of the sites from contaminating the land; if so, of the details of the terms; if not, the reasons for that?
A considerable amount of the increase in the cost estimate for decommissioning Cheoy Lee Shipyard at Penny's Bay is due to the presence of dioxins which are very expensive to treat. Dioxins are not normally associated with shipyard activities. That explained why Government had not included treatment cost for dioxins in the original estimate. The Administration's replies to the specific questions raised by Hon Albert Chan are given below.
(a) There are 105 sites zoned for industrial uses in the current statutory Outline Zoning Plans. A breakdown by their locations and sizes is at Annex (doc format).
(b) There are various measures including a number of existing legislation that can be used to deal with land contamination. One example is the Waste Disposal Ordinance (WDO), which sets out a framework for the management of waste disposal activities with relevant licensing and statutory requirements. The WDO imposes criminal liability for failure to comply with the statutory requirements. Improper waste disposal activities which may contribute or lead to land contamination are liable to prosecution. For example, using or permitting to be used any land or premises for the disposal of waste without a licence may lead to prosecution resulting in fines and/or imprisonment.
Another example is the Environmental Impact Assessment Ordinance (EIAO), which also contains provisions relating to land contamination issues. The designated projects listed in Part II of Schedule 2 to the EIAO are those involving land uses which have the potential to cause land contamination. These project owners are required to follow the statutory environmental impact assessment process before an environmental permit may be issued for decommissioning their facilities.
At present, Government is considering possible legal avenues in relation to the contamination at the former Cheoy Lee Shipyard site. In order not to prejudice Government's position, it is inappropriate to comment on the effectiveness of the statutory provisions at this stage.
(c) Appropriate provisions relating to environmental protection have been included in the land leases of industrial sites. These provisions include requirements that the grantee is to comply with prevailing laws governing the control of any form of pollution and the protection of the environment. These provisions are reviewed from time to time in consultation with the relevant authorities and steps are being taken for the inclusion of a set of more stringent pollution control clauses in new lease conditions. For example, provision on the grantee's responsibility for decontamination of the lot upon expiry of the lease has now been included in the relevant land leases.
End/Wednesday, May 15, 2002