31 August 2000
West Rail batching plants did not cause pollution to Yuen Long
In response to media enquiries today (Thursday), a KCRC spokesman stated that the four concrete batching plants at West Rail sites in Yuen Long have not caused adverse impacts on air quality and water quality of Kam Tin River.The spokesman said that effluent from concrete batching plants as reported in press reports today is being reused in the plants and there are no discharges at all to the Kam Tin River or any external water body.
1. "Milky stagnant water shown in the picture of one of the press reports is actually the sedimentation pond of West Rail's Tai Lam Tunnel works.  The ground water inflow into the tunnelling works is settled and filtered to acceptable level prior to discharge into Kam Tin River,"he said.
2. Air and water quality in the vicinity of the batching plants is monitored on a weekly basis.The air quality monitoring data clearly shows compliance with EPD's limits.
3. Regarding impact on water quality, the tunnel seepage water from the north portal of the Tai Lam Tunnel is directed to a series of sedimentation ponds and filtering ponds prior to discharge to Kam Tin River. Apart from the days when the stream was affected by external factors like rainfall, fishing and agricultural activities, the quality of water discharged to Kam Tin River complies with the EPD's standards.
4. Regarding concerns over air quality, the spokesman said pulverised fuel ash (PFA) is widely used in concrete production throughout Hong Kong and in other parts of the world. PFA is stored in sealed silos installed with air filter. Exposure of animals and man to PFA dust has been monitored by researches carried out overseas and in Hong Kong, and there is no evidence to suggest that it is likely to cause lung disease.
5. In accordance with the contract provisions, West Rail contractors are required to obtain the necessary licences from relevant government departments. This includes obtaining from the Environmental Protection Department the licence for operating concrete batching plants.
6. There are four concrete batching plants in Yuen Long. All of them are licensed.
7. Following individual incidents where West Rail contractors or their sub-contractors were found to be operating concrete batching plants before obtaining the necessary licence from the EPD, KCRC has reminded the contractors again that the operation of the plants must comply with the licensing requirements. One of the West Rail contractors has subsequently replaced the sub-contractor which did not comply with the licensing requirements.
8. On-site concrete batching plants are required to ensure a continuous supply of concrete for West Rail construction. On-site plants ensure that the number of trips and the distance travelled by vehicles transporting raw materials and concrete is minimised, thus reducing potential environmental pollution and impact on road traffic.