About 900 Food and Environmental Hygiene Department workers are worried that it might be illegal for them to dispose of bicycles left chained up at bike parking areas for long periods. The chairwoman of the department's staff rights union, Li Mei-siu, said members had been ordered to cut the chains and dispose of bicycles that had been left in parking places for too long. She said staff members had been told such removals were justified under the Waste Disposal Ordinance because the majority of these bikes were very old and could be classified as rubbish. But legal opinion sought by the union differed. The union was advised that the bicycles could not be deemed rubbish whether they were new or had fallen into disrepair. Ms Li said staff members were worried that they could be legally challenged on the issue. 'According to the Waste Disposal Ordinance, waste is something that has been dumped. But the bicycles in the parking spaces have not been disposed of despite the fact that they have been there a long time.' Department staff removed bicycles in a parking area in Sai Kung in January and one owner had complained to the District Council that the department had dumped his property despite his bike being parked in a legal parking area. 'We have asked supervisors how to deal with the situation and we have been told to follow our working guidelines,' Ms Li said. 'The department said bicycles left in parking places are usually very old so staff can dump them as rubbish.' She said it should be the Transport Department's responsibility, under the obstruction of public places ordinance. A hygiene department spokeswoman said: 'We will only dispose of bicycles if they are old [and illegally parked]. 'If they are not old, it is not our department that should handle it.'