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Tackling odour problem of waterfront tourist attractions

LCQ3: Tackling odour problem of waterfront tourist attractions

Hong Kong (HKSAR) – Following is a question by the Hon Raymond Ho
Chung-tai and a written reply by the Secretary for the Environment, Mr
Edward Yau, in the Legislative Council today (February 1):


There are many restaurants at the tourist attractions (e.g. Lei Yue Mun
and Cheung Chau, etc.) which are famous for seafood in Hong Kong, and
foul odour can be smelled from time to time at the seashore near these
restaurants. Such a situation has persisted for many years and it is not
hard to notice the situation, but the authorities still have not
properly tackled the problem.

In this connection, will the Government inform this Council:

(a) whether the reason for not properly tackling the aforesaid problem
over the past years by the authorities is that tourists’ interest in the
aforesaid attractions has not dropped, and that the authorities are
pleased with the present situation; if not, whether the authorities are
not fully aware of the problem;

(b) whether the authorities know the source of the odour; if so, whether
they have adopted any corresponding improvement measure; if they have,
of the details and effectiveness of the measure; and

(c) whether the authorities have any specific plan to improve the
environmental hygiene of the tourist attractions which offer culinary
delights as a selling point, so as to avoid tourists having a negative
impression on Hong Kong’s environmental hygiene and to reinforce the
image of Hong Kong as a culinary paradise?



The Administration has always attached great importance to maintain the
advantage of famous tourist attractions in Hong Kong. The question
mentions that the many seafood restaurants at the seafront of Lei Yue
Mun and Cheung Chau have been popular with local citizens and tourists
alike.While the departments concerned, including the Environmental
Protection Department (EPD), the Drainage Services Department (DSD) and
the Food and Environmental Hygiene Department (FEHD) have not received
any odour complaints associated with sea water in the waterfront areas
over the past three years (2009-2011), the Tourism Commission (TC) did
receive an expression of concern by an organisation in October 2009 over
the sewage disposal arrangements in Lei Yue Mun. Subsequently, the
District Management Committee of the Kwun Tong District Office discussed
the issue and closely monitored the progress of the implementation of
improvement measures by concerned departments at its meetings in April
and June 2010.

We would reply to the question in detail as follows:

(a) The sources of odour at waterfront areas vary according to the
actual conditions at different locations.

These would generally include rubbish piles on waterfront streets and
decomposing organic matters (such as residual food or drinks) that
accumulated inside storm water drains or catch pits in the vicinity of
waterfront shops and food premises. Other sources include decomposing
organic matters, such as dead fish and algae, accumulated in waters near
piers, shallow banks and places with slow water flow. These may also
give off odour if they are not removed promptly.

The odour may be aggravated by hot weather or under strong sun light.
Depending on the actual circumstances, the departments concerned,
including EPD, DSD and FEHD, will work closely to identify the causes of
odour and take follow-up actions.

The Government has always adopted measures to prevent pollutants
originating from their land-based sources from affecting marine water
quality. EPD diligently inspects the Lei Yue Mun (Sam Ka Tsuen) and
Cheung Chau areas to check whether the food premises in these areas have
caused pollution to the surrounding areas or illegally discharged
effluent into storm water drains.

As for the regulation of food premises, FEHD conducts regular inspection
of the food premises in Lei Yue Mun and Cheung Chau to ensure their
compliance with the hygiene standards as stipulated under the law and in
the relevant licensing conditions. In case of breaches, the departments
concerned will take enforcement action, such as issuing verbal or
written warnings and instituting prosecution. According to EPD, all the
food premises in Cheung Chau and Lei Yue Mun are required to install
grease traps to remove oil and grease from effluent to minimise

The staff of EPD and FEHD also conduct inspection from time to time and
remind operators of these food premises to regularly remove waste from
their sewage treatment facilities (grease traps/septic tanks) and
conduct checks to ensure that their treatment facilities function
properly to prevent discharge of untreated or excessively greasy
effluent. EPD’s records also show that the sewage treatment facilities
of the food premises in Cheung Chau and Lei Yue Mun are in good order.
Moreover, FEHD always keeps a close watch on the provision of street
cleansing services at tourist attractions and, when necessary, increases
the frequency of street sweeping and washing.

DSD meanwhile is responsible for regular desilting of contaminated
sediments at public storm water outfalls to prevent their discharge into
the waterfront and, when appropriate, will increase the frequency of
desilting works.

In addition, to improve the marine water quality of Lei Yue Mun (Sam Ka
Tsuen) typhoon shelter, the Government had begun diverting trunk storm
water drains from the typhoon shelter to reduce direct pollutant
discharge into the typhoon shelter in the early years. Bio-remediation
works for facilitating decomposition of organic pollutants in sediments
were also carried out in the typhoon shelter at the end of 2004.

(b) As mentioned above, we have not received any complaints concerning
odour in the typhoon shelters at Cheung Chau and Lei Yue Mun over the
past three years. In fact, the marine water quality in the Cheung Chau
and Lei Yue Mun typhoon shelter areas continues to improve with the
conduct of enforcement, educational promotion and improvement works.

Monitoring results show that the water quality of Cheung Chau Typhoon
Shelter was good over the past three years (2009 -2011) and the 1986 to
2011 results of Sam Ka Tsuen Typhoon Shelter showed that the level of
dissolved oxygen has steadily risen while the E. coli counts dropped.

(c) Renowned as the culinary capital of Asia, Hong Kong offers a wide
selection of cuisine, which has attracted many visitors to come to

The Government has all along closely monitored the environment and
supporting facilities of the city’s dining districts. Whenever
necessary, TC would co-ordinate the relevant departments including FEHD,
EPD, the District Offices of the Home Affairs Department, etc ., for
suitable improvement, so as to maintain Hong Kong’s reputation as Asia’s
culinary capital.

Overall speaking, the environmental hygiene conditions of tourist
attractions which offer culinary delights as a selling point are
satisfactory. Nevertheless, the hygienic conditions of some individual
attractions have been a subject of concern as a result of various
factors such as their geographic environment, the mode of operations of
the food establishments, local culture, and pedestrian flows in the
vicinity, etc.

For example, the SoHo in Central District of Hong Kong Island is located
in an old residential area where the streets are narrow and steep, and
many pubs and restaurants there are opening into the streets.

As a result, the area has a greater demand for regular street cleansing
and refuse management, as compared to other dining areas in Hong Kong.
To address the situation, TC, in conjunction with the Hong Kong Tourism
Board, FEHD and other relevant departments, have liaised with the
operators of food establishments in SoHo earlier on to explore
environmental hygiene improvement measures. FEHD has since enhanced
street cleansing and street washing for the area, and stepped up warning
and enforcement against illegal littering by business operators and
other parties.

As another example, to further enhance the attractiveness of Lei Yue Mun
as a popular tourist spot, TC is planning to take forth the Lei Yue Mun
Waterfront Enhancement Project.

The scope of works includes the construction of a public landing
facility and a waterfront promenade, as well as other streetscape
improvement works. The relevant works departments are currently
arranging for the gazettal of works for the project. We expect that upon
completion of the project works, the number of visitors to Lei Yue Mun
would increase significantly.

To address the demand for improved sewerage facilities arising from the
acute increase in visitors, EPD commissioned a study in November 2010 to
examine the feasibility of providing interim and long term sewerage
improvement works for the whole Lei Yue Mun area. Taking into account
the topographical constraints and narrow alleys in Lei Yue Mun Village,
the Administration needs to conduct further detailed investigation on
the preferred options. The local communities will be consulted on the
feasible options in due course to expedite the sewerage improvement
works in the area.

TC will continue to monitor and review the environment and supporting
facilities of individual tourist attractions from time to time, and
co-ordinate with relevant departments for improvement where necessary.

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