Mud dumper went for cheaper option

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 21 February, 2001, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 21 February, 2001, 12:00am

Saving money was the main concern when a Container Terminal 9 dredging contractor decided to dump toxic mud in mainland waters, an appeal board heard yesterday.

Park Joo-sung, the chief engineer of the joint-venture Hyundai and China Civil Engineering Construction Company, was testifying on the fourth day of the reconvened appeal hearing against a government dumping ban implemented last September.

The ban applies to the dumping of toxic mud in the sea near Erzhou Island, 40km south of the SAR.

Mr Park told the board that his company had decided to dump the mud in mainland waters because it was a cheaper option.

However, government counsel Selina Lau Pik-ying said that under a mud review carried out in 1992, it had been recommended to the dredging contractors that the mud be dumped at the proposed East Sha Chau site in north Lantau.

Senior environmental protection officer Walter Sheung Sui-choi said the department told a number of CT9 contractors at a meeting in February last year that dumping mud outside the SAR was out of the question.

But the appellant's lawyer, Jat Sew-tong, cast doubts over this and questioned why the department still passed on information from mainland authorities to contractors who were interested in dumping mud in mainland waters.

The contractor, permitted to dump a maximum of one million cubic metres of mud in mainland waters before the ban, had planned to eventually dump about 6.6 million cubic metres of toxic mud there - five times as much as was dumped in the five years up to 2000.

The hearing continues today.