Legislative Council

LC Paper No. CB(1)1389/98-99
(These minutes have been
seen by the Administration)

Ref: CB1/PL/EA/1

LegCo Panel on Environmental Affairs

Minutes of Meeting
held on Tuesday, 4 May 1999, at 3:30 pm
in Conference Room A of the Legislative Council Building

Members present :

Hon Christine LOH (Chairman)
Hon HUI Cheung-ching (Deputy Chairman)
Dr Hon Raymond HO Chung-tai, JP
Hon Mrs Sophie LEUNG LAU Yau-fun, JP
Hon YEUNG Yiu-chung
Hon LAU Kong-wah

Members absent :

Prof Hon NG Ching-fai
Hon Bernard CHAN
Hon CHAN Wing-chan
Dr Hon LEONG Che-hung, JP
Hon WONG Yung-kan
Hon Mrs Miriam LAU Kin-yee, JP
Hon CHOY So-yuk
Hon LAW Chi-kwong, JP

Public officers attending :

For item IV

Deputy Secretary for Planning, Environment and Lands (Environment)

Mr Raymond HO
Chief Assistant Secretary for Works (Information Technology)

Mr David WONG
Principal Environmental Protection Officer
(Corporate Services)
Environmental Protection Department

Assistant Director (Electrical & Mechanical)
Drainage Services Department

Clerk in attendance :

Miss Odelia LEUNG,
Chief Assistant Secretary (1)1

Staff in attendance :

Mrs Mary TANG,
Senior Assistant Secretary (1)2

I Confirmation of minutes of meeting
(LC Paper Nos. CB(1)1147 and 1148/98-99)

The minutes of meetings held on 15 January and 5 February 1999 were confirmed.

II Date of next meeting and items for discussion

2. Members noted that the next regular Panel meeting originally scheduled for 4 June 1999 would be postponed to 11 June 1999 at 10:45 am. Members agreed to discuss the following subjects proposed by the Administration -

  1. Construction and demolition material disposal - problems and improvements;

  2. Outlying Island Sewerage Stage I Phase 1B - Outfall Replacement and Sewage Sludge Dewatering Facilities Upgrading at Cheung Chau Sewage Treatment Plant; and

  3. Ting Kau Sewage Stage 1 and Sham Tseng Sewerage Stage 2 Phase 2.

3. On item (a), the Chairman informed that at the informal meeting with members of the Advisory Council on the Environment this morning, Mr Barrie COOK, Chairman of the Waste Reduction Committee (WRC) indicated that WRC would like to share with the Panel its idea on construction waste reduction. The Chairman suggested and members agreed to invite WRC to the Panel meeting on 11 June 1999. Mr LAU Kong-wah suggested and the Deputy Secretary for Planning, Environment and Land (DS/PEL) agreed that the discussion on the subject should cover recycling of construction and demolition (C & D) materials. Responding to Dr Raymond HO's enquiry on the representation of Government departments when discussing the subject, DS/PEL advised that representatives from the Environmental Protection Department, Civil Engineering Department and other departments involved would be attending the meeting.

4. Mr LAU Kong-wah suggested that the Panel discuss the subject of testing devices for smoky vehicles. The Chairman informed that the Bills Committee on Revenue Bill 1999 would discuss at the meeting on 13 May 1999 the issue of vehicle emissions in the context of her proposed amendment to raise the fixed penalty for smoky vehicles to $5,000. She was aware that the Administration was contemplating strategies to deal with the issue including increasing fines and had been asked to comment on her proposed amendment. Mr LAU noted the information.

III Information papers issued since last meeting

5. Members noted the three information papers from the Advisory Council on the Environment (LC Paper No. CB(1)1078/98-99).

IV Progress of Year 2000 compliance exercise in environment-related government departments and non-government organisations funded or regulated by Government
(LC Paper No. CB(1)1210/98-99(01))

6. At the invitation of the Chairman, the Chief Assistant Secretary for Works (Information Technology) (CAS/W) briefed members on the progress on the Y2K compliance programme for the Environmental Division of the Planning, Environment and Lands Bureau (PELB) and the departments within the environment policy area, including the Agriculture and Fisheries Department, Drainage Services Department, Environmental Protection Department and Marine Department. CAS/W said that PELB and its departments had been addressing the impact of the Y2K problem on their departmental systems since 1994. PELB and the Works Bureau jointly set up a dedicated team in September 1998 to oversee the Y2K compliance work in their Bureaux as well as in departments and non-government organisations falling within their respective purview. An external consultant was engaged in January 1999 to review the Y2K compliance programme for sewage treatment. CAS/W then explained the present compliance status of mission-critical systems in the different departments falling within the purview of PELB as detailed in the paper.

7. Responding to Mr HUI Cheung-ching's enquiry on the present position of the five non-compliant systems in Environmental Protection Department(EPD), the Principal Environmental Protection Officer (Corporate Services) (PEPO) said that as at the end of April 1999, one of the systems had been rectified. Rectification of the remaining four systems was in progress. Three of these systems were related to chemical waste control, laboratory analysis and air pollution index. The remaining non-compliant system was a line communication system which provided public enquiry services after office hours. More testing would be conducted on these systems to ensure satisfactory performance. It was expected that the rectification work would be completed before June 1999.

8. Mr HUI Cheung-ching was concerned if the malfunctioning of the three non-compliant systems involving chemical waste control, laboratory analysis and air pollution index would directly affect public health and safety. In this connection he enquired if contingency plans had been formulated to guard against disruptions of these systems. PEPO clarified that the three non-compliant systems in EPD dealt with the provision of statistical and analytical information for internal use by EPD. Their operation would not affect the services provided to the public. Most of the services provided to the public were contracted out, amongst which was the operation of the Chemical Waste Treatment Centre (CWTC). CWTC had its own independent computer systems which had been confirmed to be Y2K compliant.

9. Mr HUI Cheung-ching queried the timing for conducting a review of the set up and arrangement of emergency support as late as in November 1999 albeit the completion of all the contingency plans in July 1999. CAS/W said that a review of the contingency plans by the departments would be conducted in August 1999. The further review to be conducted in November 1999 was to oversee the set up and associated logistical arrangements of the control centre for the imminent transition to the year 2000.

10. Dr Raymond HO sought confirmation as to whether environment-related departments would not be seriously affected by the Y2K problem since the services provided were mainly associated with the provision of statistical and analytical information. CAS/W affirmed that most of the critical businesses under the purview of PELB would not be affected by the Y2K problem. The port pollution control undertaken by the Marine Department and the conservation of natural environment undertaken by the Agricultural and Fisheries Department did not rely on computer systems.

11. On Dr Raymond HO's concern about the Y2K compliance status of business partners of environment-related departments, in particular, the Refuse Transfer Stations (RTS), PEPO said that the Administration was equally concerned about it since disruption of their services would give rise to waste disposal problems. EPD had been closely monitoring the Y2K position of the computer systems in RTS to ensure service continuity. Rectification work of systems in RTS was progressing at different stages of completion. Of the seven operating RTS, two had completed the rectification work while the remaining five were still in progress. Out of the five RTS, the one serving the outlying islands comprised a number of smaller stations on the individual islands. All these systems would be rectified by June 1999.

12. The Chairman said that since the information paper had not covered the Y2K position of business partners and service providers associated with environmental protection, she requested the Administration to provide written information in this aspect. Dr Raymond HO concurred that the problem of Y2K with regards to environment-related systems might not be as simple as it appeared to be and more details in particular on the Y2K position of service providers should be given to members. The Chairman said that upon receipt of further information from the Administration, the Panel would decide on the need to further follow up the issue. Admin.

Clerk to

V Any other business

13. There being no other business, the meeting ended at 4:00 pm.

Legislative Council Secretariat
25 May 1999