Embattled environment officials fighting for landfill extensions will return to the Sai Kung District Council today to convince local politicians that their pledges to improve the operation of the Tseung Kwan O landfill are genuinely being implemented.
The report to the council is seen as one of the crucial steps for the officials to resubmit, within the first quarter this year, their funding applications for three landfill extensions, including the one concerning Tseung Kwan O that failed in July amid lawmakers' objections.
"We hope those living close to the landfill will understand we have stepped up efforts vigorously to minimise the impacts," an Environmental Protection Department spokesman said.
But there was no sign that lawmakers and residents' hostility to the extension plans had softened, after a forced withdrawal of a HK$27 million funding request for preparation works for landfill extensions on Friday.
Gary Fan Kwok-wai, a lawmaker and Sai Kung district councillor, said real improvements had yet to be seen and his opposition to extensions remained firm. "It is too early to say if these measures are effective. That's why I think officials should not come back for funding again so soon," he said.
According to the environment officials, funding applications are now open for rubbish trucks to retrofit their vehicles with covers and effluent tanks and no non-retrofitted trucks will be allowed into landfills in future.
Officials are also searching for a Kai Tak site from where reusable construction waste can be transferred by sea to a storage facility near the landfill. This could cut up to 100 of the 1,500 vehicle trips needed per day.
Pilot tests to divert smelly sludge wastes from the landfill to an almost completed incineration plant in Tuen Mun have also been conducted and a full diversion could be ready by March.
Since January 1, the landfills' opening hours have been cut by four hours on weekends and public holidays.
Surveillance cameras have been installed at a black spot in the district to deter fly tipping, while the government has stepped up random checks on trucks that cause environmental nuisances, or commit speeding or overloading offences.
Officials will also report their odour monitoring results from June to October last year, which showed that from about 2,700 monitoring activities at residential blocks next to the landfills, odours of varying extent were found just 9.7 per cent of the time. A new pollution monitoring station will open by the end of 2015.