Chemical waste allegedly found stored in nine Hong Kong recycling sites without approval

City’s environmental protection watchdog vowed prosecutions against those involved

PUBLISHED : Friday, 07 October, 2016, 8:01am
UPDATED : Friday, 07 October, 2016, 8:27am

A joint departmental operation found a large quantity of chemical waste had been allegedly collected and stored in nine recycling sites in the New Territories without approval, with Hong Kong’s environmental protection watchdog vowing to launch prosecutions against the relevant parties.

The crackdown, named “Operation Dawn”, led to the seizure of some 3,500 pieces of LCDs, with an estimated market export value of HK$2 million, through ambushes conducted between September 26 and October 4.

The Environmental Protection Department (EPD), which led the operation, said it was investigating the people involved and gathering evidence for further prosecutions.

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“Any person who collects, stores, disposes of, imports or exports chemical waste must apply for a permit from the EPD,” a spokesman for the department said, adding that none of the nine recycling sites concerned has obtained the required approval.

While general use and normal selling of LCD monitors would not constitute danger, the collection, storage, dismantling and disposal of a large quantity of such waste could cause pollution or affect health, as they contain heavy metals, such as mercury and cadmium, as well as toxic organic compounds, the department warned.

Water and soil samples at nearby areas were also collected during the operation to check if the surrounding environment had been polluted.

The environmental protection watchdog has come under fire for failing to enforce transboundary laws preventing the import of electronic waste, following a report by watchdog Basel Action Network which used GPS trackers to expose Hong Kong as a “pollution haven” for United States exporters, with 37 out of 65 items exported out of the US to Hong Kong.

“All chemical waste must be properly handled to avoid causing pollution to the environment or affecting public health,” the spokesman said, adding that the watchdog will continue to conduct such joint operations along with other departments at waste recycling sites in the future.