A Hong Kong government contractor has been fined HK$200,000 for repeatedly discharging polluted wastewater in Tuen Mun.

The Environmental Protection Department has also deducted HK$5.5 million in operating payments promised to SITA Waste Services Limited, which operates a landfill gas treatment plant at the Pillar Point Valley Restored Landfill.

Pillar Point Valley Restored Landfill treatment plant, Tuen Mun. File photo: Environmental Protection Department.

The landfill received waste from urban Hong Kong between 1983 and 1996, and SITA was contracted by the department to take care of residual gas and wastewater emitted from the site.

Polluted wastewater

The department said in a Tuesday press release that it received complaints last year alleging that the plant conducted treatment work below the minimum required temperature of 1,000 degrees Celsius, leading to the discharge of polluted wastewater into sewers and a nearby stream.

Following an investigation last May, the department ordered a temporary suspension in the plant’s operations for repairs.

But after the repair works, the department observed repeated violations at the treatment plant between May and October last year.

“It was found that the total nitrogen level in the discharge exceeded the specified limit in the licence on eight occasions,” said the department.

“The amount of discharge exceeded the discharge flow limit specified in the licence on ten occasions, and the contractor also failed to notify the [department] immediately on two occasions when the amount of discharge exceeded the discharge flow limit.”

Pillar Point Valley Landfill, Tuen Mun. File photo: Environmental Protection Department.

On Tuesday, the Fanling Magistrates’ Courts convicted SITA of a total of 20 offences under the Water Pollution Control (General) Regulations, and handed down the HK$200,000 fine.

“The department is gravely concerned about the management and monitoring by the contractors of its facilities,” said a spokesperson.

The deductions in operational payments to SITA were calculated in accordance with contractual provisions.

See also: ‘Golf training’ facilities appear on illegal waste dump in Tin Shui Wai

According to its website, SITA provides waste collection services, as well as treatment plant operation and aftercare services, in over a dozen locations in Hong Kong.

Elson Tong

Elson Tong is a graduate of international relations and former investigations consultant. He has also written for Stand News.