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Hong Kong MTR

Safety-first MTR Corp never underestimates the risks and challenges of unexploded bombs

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 22 February, 2018, 4:42pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 22 February, 2018, 10:24pm

Safety is always the top priority for MTR Corp’s railway operations and projects, and I would like to clarify a number of facts relating to the discovery of wartime bombs at the Exhibition Centre Station works site of the Sha Tin to Central Link project.

Firstly, during the design and planning stage of the link, discovery of “unexploded bombs during construction” was registered as a potential risk and we mandated that a corresponding handling mechanism be formulated ahead of site excavation.

Second, when excavation reached close to the former seabed level where wartime bombs may be encountered, a prescribed and strictly controlled excavation method was adopted: the works site was divided into smaller areas, a smaller size of excavator plant was used, and excavation under supervision proceeded in a gradual and prudent manner.

Third, before the commencement of the excavation works in 2016, MTR Corp proactively communicated with police experts to provide a specific project briefing on the recommended procedures, that is, when any suspected explosive objects are encountered, stop work immediately, evacuate the project team and report to police for assistance.

The excavation works have thus been carried out in a safe manner since commencement, including strict compliance with the recommended procedures for effective handling of the bombs found on January 27 and January 31.

Why does Hong Kong have so many buried wartime bombs?

It should also be pointed out that, in an area of land reclamation like Exhibition Centre Station, screening by metal detectors at an early stage of excavation would not be an effective way to identify explosive objects due to their depth below ground level, range limitations of the equipment, and the presence of sundry metals including massive pipes underground. Therefore, metal detectors are only used as a supplementary tool when appropriate.

We do hope this will clarify the actual situation for the understanding of your readers. In our railway works, the safety of members of the public and workers are of utmost importance. Please be assured, the corporation will never underestimate the risks and challenges presented by underground explosive objects.

Prudence Chan, senior manager, Projects & Property Communications, MTR Corp