Charges filed over dumping near reservoir

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 12 April, 2008, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 12 April, 2008, 12:00am

People who discarded construction waste near Shing Mun Reservoir have been charged with illegal dumping, officials revealed yesterday as they admitted the government was powerless to monitor dumping on private land.

Last month, bags of rubbish, soil and industrial waste spread over an area of 1,400 square metres were found outside the boundary of Shing Mun Country Park near the reservoir.

Speaking during a special meeting of the Legislative Council's environmental affairs panel, Environmental Protection Department deputy director Michael Chiu Tak-lun said the government had removed 17 per cent of the waste, which was on government land.

He said the remaining waste had not been moved because it had been dumped on private land.

'We have charged the people related to the case already so we can't comment further now,' Dr Chiu said. 'We can only do away with waste on government land. For private land, if the waste is not toxic and does not affect others we can do nothing as long as the property owner allows it.'

Dr Chiu said the waste near the reservoir was not contaminated.

Democratic Party legislator Lee Wing-tat, who was threatened by a man last month while removing some of the waste, said the situation was a 'mess'.

'Government departments, including lands and environmental protection, all try to shrug off their responsibility to remove construction waste found on private land.'

Mr Lee said many New Territories residents were affected by the problem and every department they went to told them that another department handled such issues.

'Do you know that residents in Shek Wu Wai are now making some bamboo boats? They fear waste spread over an area as large as about three basketball courts will lead to flooding when the rainy season comes, as the drainage is blocked,' Mr Lee said.

Another Democratic Party lawmaker, Sin Chung-kai, said people had to pay to dump construction waste at a landfill site.

'The government loses money if it keeps allowing such problems to happen,' he said.

Pan-democrat legislator Anson Chan Fang On-sang asked why there was no 'lead department' handling the problem.

'Without one, it is hard to co-ordinate all those works by different departments. It is hard for ordinary citizens to file their complaints,' Mrs Chan said.

Dr Chiu said there was no formal co-ordination among various departments, but the government would look into the issue.