HONG KONG SAR - Media OutReach - 7 June 2021 -China Concrete Company Limited (the "Company") filed an appeal with the Environmental Protection Department (EPD) mid last month regarding the Department's decision to reject license renewal application for its Yau Tong cement storage facility. The Company mentions that the EPD's recent rejection not only lacked sound justification, but the procedure also deviated from its usual practice. The Company will keep on improving the operation conditions of its plant and strive to get its license renewed. The Company also expresses its readiness to build a high-tech non-polluting concrete plant and abandon the existing plant after identifying a suitable site.
The Company mentions that upon receiving the EPD's notice of April 29 regarding the rejection of license renewal for the cement storage facility of its Yau Tong plant, it filed an appeal on May 18 and will shortly submit further documents to the appeal committee. The EPD's rejection procedure did not follow previous similar renewal rejections received by the industry. In its rejection notice, the EPD only stated that "the plant has records of poor environmental performance in the past. It failed to submit sufficient information on the application to prove that it has the ability to provide, install and operate feasible measures required for effective operation." Yet such justification was far-fetched and was different from the usual practice of providing solid evidence. The EPD used to issue a warning before subsequently turning down renewal applications, yet the Company received a straight rejection without any prior warning. The Company believes the EPD made such decision under pressure from opposition from a minority of the public.
Being a local company deeply rooted in Hong Kong for over three decades, the Company operates its production plant by the side of a luxury housing site being developed by three Chinese-funded property developers (Minmetals Land, Yuexiu Property and Qingjian Realty). The Company believes the EPD's decision was made under pressure from opposition voice driven by developers, and the decision was neither impartial nor justified. The Company has been manufacturing concrete materials essential for Hong Kong's infrastructure and building construction over the years. The Company expresses its disappointment for the lack of more support from the government.
Mr. Bono Tsang of China Concrete Company Limited adds that the plant is still in operation and will continue to improve its production procedures, with particular attention on the prevention of dust leakage and cleanliness of the nearby roads. The plant has also planned future measures on the following: further reduction of air pollution; more effective sewage and waste treatment; keeping cement trucks dry and clean when departing from the plant; and hiring an independent third-party environmental manager to oversee the company's operations.
Mr. Bono Tsang admits that improving the operation of the existing plant is only a temporary fix. A permanent solution is to relocate the plant to another site. "As early as May last year, we expressed to the government our willingness of relocating the plant despite a huge investment cost, and we proactively proposed tentative locations. Our idea is to build a high-tech, advanced pollution-free and environmentally friendly indoor concrete plant. It will become a model for similar plants around the world."
Incidentally, the Company will publish an open letter on newspaper tomorrow (June 8) (please refer to the attachment for details) in response to concerns from residents, politicians and media about the operation of the Company's concrete production plant in Yau Tong. The "Open Letter to Hong Kong Citizens" entitled "Our Love for Hong Kong Planted on Concrete" stated that the Company's concrete plant in Yau Tong was constructed in the mid-1980s. The Company reminisced: Yau Tong was deserted and there were no residential homes by then. There were only a few ship repair factories about to wind down. Concrete was an indispensable material for construction projects, and it must be used within two hours of production. Therefore, Yau Tong, by then, was ideal for concrete production, a place far away from residential areas and near the sea.
The Company believed that the recent controversy arising from the operation of the Yau Tong plant was a legacy from the past, as the plant had been erected in Yau Tong much earlier than homes were built. The government was obliged to devise a long-term solution to address the issue. The Company shared Yau Tong residents' concerns over health and living environment, and was willing to comply with and meet public expectations. Having said that, the plant has been in operation for 20 years. Despite our best effort, there are still limitations on how well we can upgrade facilities. That means as long as the plant is still in operation here, it is incapable of fulfilling public expectations in full.
The Company also made two clarifications regarding descriptions about the plant on media reports:
That the operation of the plant has caused pollution of nearby sea water, and therefore disappearance of fishes. In reality, a fish wholesale market operated by the Fish Marketing Office next to the plant pumps seawater there every day to feed fresh fish. This proves normal water quality there. Criticism about cement trucks turning roads slippery, posing dangers and causing traffic congestion. Such problems and further pollution issues can also be created by buses, container trucks, fish-carrying vehicles and transportation of recycled wastes that are using the same roads. It is therefore unfair to lay all blames on cement trucks.
The Company states that it will keep on attending to the feedback of all parties on the operation of the concrete plant and it firmly believes in working together with the government and the public to achieve a win-win solution.