Exposé says construction waste being dumped in Victoria Harbour, government apparently unaware

An investigation by Ming Pao reports that enormous amounts of construction waste are being regularly dumped into Victoria Harbour, without the knowledge of multiple government agencies.

The article, which was published today, detailed that waste from the Central – Wan Chai Bypass and Island Eastern Corridor Link has been dumped into sea seemingly without the permission or knowledge of the Highways Department and the Environmental Protection Department.

Reporters from Ming Pao visited the site after hearing complaints that slurry was seen floating in the sea close to the Causeway Bay Typhoon Shelter, where the construction site is based.

A video filmed at the site appears to show a pipe dumping a milky-white substance, believed to be the aforementioned slurry, into the waters. 

Ming Pao reported that the slurry was tested and confirmed to contain a common building material called bentonite, which is not poisonous, but can apparently kill marine life by reducing the concentration of oxygen in the sea.

The expert consulted by Ming Pao also added that bentonite could have an adverse effect on the health of people swimming in contaminated waters.

And here we were, thinking that the harbour was actually a Fountain of Youth.

According to government regulations, bentonite slurry has to be mixed with dry soil on site before being shipped to public filling reception facilities. 

The main contractor of the project, China State Construction Engineering (Hong Kong) Ltd, claims that it has been properly disposing of its waste material.

However, a source apparently said that the subcontractors have been dumping waste for at least six months, with the total waste estimated to reach 20,000 cubic metres.

Ming Pao reports the source as saying that workers would stop dumping waste prior to inspections by government officials. This was apparently on the orders of the subcontractors in charge of waste disposal who, rather conveniently, always knew when the inspections would take place. 

Apparently at least 87 inspections have been conducted on site by the Environmental Protection Department, who supposedly found nothing amiss.

The Highways Department, which is in charge of the construction project, deferred monitoring of contractors to consulting firm AECOM Asia Co. Ltd, which also reported no irregularities.

When confronted by Ming Pao reporters, individuals dressed in AECOM vests repeatedly denied any knowledge of the waste dumping and asked the reporters to leave the site.

Lawmaker Albert Ho said that illegally dumping pollutants into the sea is a serious offence, and the relevant governmental agencies and contractors should be held accountable for violating the law.

The Water Pollution Ordinance says that anyone found dumping pollutants into a restricted area could be fined up to HKD200,000 and handed a jail term of up to six months.

Photo: Ming Pao screenshot

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