on 19 March 1998
Provisional Legislative Council
Panel on Security
Package of measures to improve the control on dangerous goodsIntroduction
This paper informs Members of the Administration's package of measures to improve the control on dangerous goods.
2.On 4 December 1997, some cyanide compounds dislodged from a lorry and scattered onto the road while it was travelling along Tai Po Road near Kowloon Reservoir. We briefed Members on 17 December 1997 on the emergency response to the incident, and the legislative control on dangerous goods. We also undertook to review the control on the transportation of dangerous goods and the handling of incidents involving dangerous goods, and introduce improvements to the existing system.
Package of Measures
3.An inter-departmental working group has been set up under the co-ordination of the Security Bureau to draw up measures to tighten the control on dangerous goods. In the light of Members' comments and suggestions, we have now formulated a package of measures to improve the control on dangerous goods, covering both immediate, short and medium term measures.
(A)Immediate Measures - Review on emergency response management
4.We have reviewed the emergency response management and considered that the following improvements should be made in handling incidents involving chemicals in future -
- Information management and public relations
An Incident Liaison Group will be set up under the co-ordination of the Fire Services Department (FSD) at the incident scene. The Group will be responsible for inter-departmental co-ordination, information dissemination as well as public relations handling. An enquiry hotline will also be set up to answer questions from the public.
FSD will take additional measures as necessary to ensure public safety, such as putting up notices to warn the public of the potential danger, and cordoning off the affected area until it has been completely cleaned up.
- Emergency response and rescue operation
FSD will ensure efficient mobilisation of its resources. Detailed guidelines will be laid down to set out the special appliances and equipment which should be despatched in response to major chemical incidents.
5.FSD has incorporated the above improvement measures into its operational procedures.
(B) Short Term Measures - Code of Practice on the conveyance of Categories 3 and 4 dangerous goods
6.Of the ten categories of dangerous goods covered in the Dangerous Goods Ordinance (DGO) (see Annex A
), there are special safety requirements on the transportation of Categories 1, 2 and 5 dangerous goods only. We will review and extend legislative control to cover the transportation of other types of dangerous goods. As an interim measure, FSD has developed a Code of Practice on the transportation of Categories 3 (corrosive substances) and 4 (poisonous substances including cyanide) dangerous goods. We have covered these two categories of dangerous goods in the Code as a matter of priority because these chemicals would likely pose a greater hazard than the other types of dangerous goods, apart from Categories 1, 2 and 5. There is already a Code of Practice by the Transport Department with detailed guidelines and instructions on the loading and mounting of goods on vehicles in general.
7.A copy of the Code of Practice is at Annex B. The Code provides safety guidelines for the conveyance of Categories 3 and 4 dangerous goods by vehicles, including proper stowage and the responsibilities of consignors and drivers, as well as emergency procedures to be followed by drivers in case of accidents.
8.FSD has consulted the transport and trucking industries on the Code, and organised a seminar on 3 March 1998 to introduce and distribute the Code to the relevant trades. Copies of the Code are also available from the District Offices and the Transport Department.
(C) Medium Term Measures - Legislative Changes
(I) Legislative control on the conveyance of dangerous goods
9.In the light of the cyanide spill incident, we are reviewing as a matter of priority the need to tighten the control on the transportation of Categories 3, 4, 6, 7, 8, 9 and 10 dangerous goods by vehicles. To facilitate the review, FSD will engage a consultant to provide professional and technical advice on the international standards and practice on the conveyance of dangerous goods. It is expected that an interim report on the transportation of Categories 3 and 4 dangerous goods will be completed by mid-1998, and that the recommendations on the transportation of other categories of dangerous goods will be completed by the end of 1998.
10.Based on the findings of the review, we aim to introduce legislative amendments to tighten the control on the transportation of Categories 3 and 4 dangerous goods before end 1998, and introduce legislative amendments to tighten the control on the transportation of other categories of dangerous goods in 1999.
(II) Comprehensive review of the Dangerous Goods Ordinance
11.The DGO was enacted in the 1950s and is in many ways outdated. The FSD has been reviewing the DGO to bring it into line with prevailing international standards. The existing DGO covers some 400 types of chemicals under ten categories of dangerous goods. FSD has conducted a study on the international standards of dangerous goods, and identified some 1,200 additional types of dangerous goods which may possibly be added to the DGO.
12.The review covers the classification, labelling, packaging and exempted quantities of dangerous goods. We will also revise the penalties in the DGO to strengthen the deterrent effect. We expect that the comprehensive review will be completed by mid-1998, and aim to introduce legislative amendments in the second half of the 1998/99 legislative session.
12 March 1998
Types of Dangerous Goods
Governed by the Dangerous Goods Ordinance (Chapter 295)
Under the Dangerous Goods Ordinance (Chapter 295), dangerous goods are classified into the following ten categories -
|1||explosives and blasting agents
|5||substances giving off inflammable vapours
|6||substances which become dangerous by interaction with water
|7||strong supporters of combustion
|8||readily combustible substances
|9||substances liable to spontaneous combustion
|9A||combustibles goods exempted from Sections 6 to 11 of the Ordinance
|10||other dangerous substances