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Guangdong to put HK building waste to good use
Latest Updated by 2006-03-27 15:22:05
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Millions of tons of construction waste generated in Hong Kong will be disposed of across the border to help a mainland reclamation project.

Under an agreement among central, Guangdong and Hong Kong authorities, officials have chosen Taishan, about 117 kilometres southwest of the SAR, as the first point to test the scheme, according to which rubble, concrete and other construction wastes will be transported there for a reclamation project.

The government plans to float a public tender next month to run reception facilities on Lantau Island and carry the waste to the designated sea area in Taishan. If the project proves successful, it could be extended to other mainland destinations.

Announcing the agreement at a media lunch yesterday, Civil Engineering and Development Department (CEDD) Director John Chai said officials were in the final stage of preparing the tender document.

Hong Kong's need to look for disposal sites across the border became urgent after a series of court rulings between July 2003 and January 2004 that subjected reclamation in the city to the stringent test of "overriding public need". The rulings said the city could not proceed with its plans to reclaim land from the harbour unless it proved an "overriding public need" for it. Harbour protectionists have been watching closely too.

Since then, reclamation projects originally on the government agenda have been reviewed and a number of them cancelled. Those still on the anvil have been scaled back substantially to comply with the court requirements.

The construction industry, however, continues to generate more than 6,500 tons of waste every day, 80 per cent of which are debris, rubble, earth and concrete that can be used for reclamation and site formation. Till the court rulings, the major part of the waste used to go into local reclamation projects.

Chai said the fill banks in Tseung Kwan O and Tuen Mun were more than half full and could be filled up quickly unless some exits were found for the recyclable wastes.

Tseung Kwan O fill bank, designed to take in 10.8 million tons, already has 6.5 million tons of wastes. The 7.5-million-ton Tuen Mun fill bank has space left for just 3 million tons.

Head of CEDD's Civil Engineering Office Yip Sai-chor said the two fill banks - spread over 100 hectares - could be cleared by 2009 should the programme turn out to be successful.

The Tseung Kwan O fill bank is near a strategic landfill that is used to dump municipal and industrial wastes besides taking in 20 per cent construction garbage that cannot be re-used.

Yip, whose unit would oversee the cross-border programme from Hong Kong side, said talks leading to the deal had not been totally on a straight course.

Some mainland officials were taken aback when their Hong Kong peers first proposed to dispose of the rubble and debris - wastes for ones but useful filling material for the others - in their backyard. They agreed only after the material was renamed as "public fill", and Taishan was picked as the experimental point in January.

Yip said revenue from the government's construction waste charging scheme, starting in January, should be sufficient to cover the operation costs of the cross-border disposal project.

Friends of the Earth environmental affairs manager Hahn Chu said this was "the lesser of two evils", adding that it was important for the construction wastes heading for the mainland to meet certain recyclable standards.

He agreed that regional cooperation such as this offered a way of solving the city's problem and benefitting the other at the same time. He, however, said solving its own problems should remain a priority for Hong Kong. But in this particular case, Hong Kong needed more from the mainland than the mainland did from it, Yip agreed.

Editor: Yan

By: Tonny Chan Source: China Daily Website
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