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Transcript of SETW's media session

Following is a transcript (English portion) of the media session by the Secretary for the Environment, Transport and Works, Dr Sarah Liao, today (June 16):

Dr Liao: Today we spent a lot of time trying to find out what was submitted to LegCo by Mr Wan. Because of the intellectual property right issue, we could not get a copy and that’s why it is so late that we make a response. But the important point is that the report is similar to the one that we have in our library which was given to us in a similar period by Mr Wan. And we have reasons to believe they may be the same one.

We are also concerned of the claims by a legislator that the dioxin level is three times over the international permissible level. I wish to confirm that of all the monitoring that we have done in the Victoria Harbour, including the paper published by the City University done independently, shows that the dioxin level is in the region of thirty times lower than the international permissible level. And it is important that the public should know that there should not be any alarm over the claim that the level is three times over because there is no substantiation over it, and it is not fair that the public should be subject to such unsubstantiated news.

Reporter: …may be dioxin there, why not just do the test now?

Dr Liao: We have done many tests. If a test is done, there should be reasons for it, and I have always said scientifically we need to have a procedure to establish why we do certain test and not because somebody make a claim that it is three times more than the permissible level. That is our principle. And we can show you data that we have done in the past and also there are papers published in the public domain to certify that the Victoria Harbour has a level which is very low and it is consistent with the ubiquity of dioxin in our environment.

Reporter: ….meet LegCo one more time …?

Dr Liao: First of all, I don’t think we can say never. We have been monitoring dioxin regularly as the part of our programme in determination of toxic substance in Hong Kong water, sediment, and land contamination. So this is the continual process for us. As far as the legislative process is concerned, legislators have taken a vote today and in view of their support is not enough, I don’t think there will be a panel meeting for the time being. I don’t know what would happen in the future.

Reporter: ….rule out any test?

Dr Liao: I have said before we do not conduct any test because of rumours. We conduct a test with a well thought out sampling strategy, with a reason, with a plan that will give us sensible and usable results that are scientifically sound.

Reporter: …conduct public consultation?

Dr Liao: It has been consulted for a long time since 1999 or 1998. This is not for me to decide.

(Please also refer to the Chinese portion)

Ends/Friday, June 16, 2006