Hong Kong's tainted water scare

Tendering process on hold for four Hong Kong housing estates amid lead-in-water crisis

Contractors bidding on construction also involved in lead contamination scare

PUBLISHED : Friday, 21 August, 2015, 12:01am
UPDATED : Friday, 21 August, 2015, 3:07am

The tendering process for four new public housing projects, involving 6,132 households, will be postponed for a month due to the ongoing lead-in-water crisis, the Housing Authority's tender committee said yesterday.

Director of Housing Stanley Ying Yiu-hong said some of the four main contractors involved in the contamination scandal, in which elevated levels of lead have been discovered in at least 10 public housing estates, were also bidders on the housing projects.

The tender committee, led by Cheung Tat-tong, decided to wait for three pieces of information before choosing the bidder.

Those are the test results of water samples from all public housing estates built after 2005; a report by a team of water supply experts; and reports by the four main contractors.

The contractors - China State Construction Engineering (HK), Yau Lee Construction Company, Paul Y Engineering Group and Shui On Building Contractors - are all expected to complete their reports next month.

The postponed tendering decision is expected to push back the completion of the second phase of Shek Mun Estate, a public housing project, and three Home Ownership Scheme developments by one month.

Meanwhile, eight children aged eight or younger were found to have excessive lead levels in their blood out of 284 blood tests conducted last weekend.

A one year-old had the highest measurement in the batch with 9.11 micrograms of lead per deciliter of blood - almost double the World Health Organisation safety standard of 5 mcg/dl.

The eight children are from Lower Ngau Tau Kok Estate, Hung Hom Estate, and Kwai Luen Estate phase two.

Adding to the crisis, traces of the legionella virus were found in the rooftop water tank of the Wing Chun House at the Wing Cheong Estate in Sham Shui Po, said Dr Regina Ching Cheuk-tuen, head of the surveillance and epidemiology branch of the Department of Health's Centre for Health Protection.

It was found after a male resident caught legionnaires' disease.

"We plan to conduct disinfection for the building's water tank, change the taps of [the man's] flat, and collect follow-up water samples," said Ching.