Hong Kong MTR

Construction waste was used in Hong Kong MTR Sha Tin-Central rail link station – but not for wall, transport chief says

In response to leaked photos of work, Frank Chan tells lawmakers the ‘environmentally friendly’ arrangement was acceptable and made good use of material

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 05 July, 2018, 7:31am
UPDATED : Thursday, 05 July, 2018, 10:18am

Construction waste was used for building work in a station on the scandal-plagued Sha Tin to Central rail link project, Hong Kong’s transport minister confirmed on Wednesday.

However, while Secretary for Transport and Housing Frank Chan Fan told lawmakers the “environmentally friendly” arrangement was acceptable and made good use of the material, he slammed rail giant MTR Corporation for not reporting to the government in a timely manner.

Leaked photos last week were said to show a “staircase wall” on the platform of To Kwa Wan station being built from bags of construction waste including crushed stones and steel bars rather than solid concrete.

It was the second incident involving the station following a recent wave of revelations about shoddy work at two other stations along the HK$97.1 billion (US$12.4 billion) link, at Hung Hom and Exhibition Centre.

Chan said inert recycled materials were used but not for building a wall. The materials were being used to provide weight to combat upthrust from underground water, he said.

“Overall, the relevant design and arrangements are acceptable. But we are dissatisfied that the MTR Corp did not report to the Highways Department in a timely manner,” Chan said, without elaborating.

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Lawmaker Claudia Mo Man-ching, who had been given the photos by an informant, said the MTR Corp told her the bags held “concrete debris” and that cement would be poured over them.

Mo, quoting the firm’s verbal reply, said “it wasn’t to form a wall, and its relationship with the building’s structure was small, or non-existent”.

An MTR spokeswoman said the company would give an account at a Legislative Council subcommittee meeting on Friday.

Civil and structural engineer Simon So Yiu-kwan called Chan’s explanation “baffling”, as the normal practice was to use other methods to withstand the upthrust from underground water.

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“I am completely baffled by Chan’s account. I’ve never heard of using construction waste to build a structure for counteracting the upthrust force of underground water,” he said.

So added that building a concrete plinth with pipes on top was one way to counteract the force but that the leaked photos showed twin pipelines were part of the internal structure.

“The Environmental Protection Department has strict requirements on using construction waste for construction works and waste must be separated into different types,” he explained. “For example, the stones must be crushed at a quarry. I’ve rarely heard of crushed stones being processed at a construction site.”

Separately, Mo’s motion to invoke Legco’s “special powers” to investigate shoddy works at To Kwa Wan station was shot down at a meeting on Wednesday.

In a report submitted to the Highways Department, the MTR Corp earlier confirmed three cases of “unauthorised deviations” from design drawings for a To Kwa Wan station ­platform wall. A total of 60 square metres (645 sq ft) was shaved off, but the rail operator insisted the work posed no safety risk.

It involved a HK$4.57 billion contract awarded to a joint venture between Hsin Chong Group Holdings and Samsung C&T in July 2012.