Link fined for dumping wastewater in river

Local | Flora Chung 2 Nov 2016

Real estate investment giant Link REIT was yesterday fined HK$15,000 for illegally dumping wastewater from one of its malls into the Shing Mun River in Sha Tin.

The Environmental Protection Department initiated prosecution against the company under the Water Pollution Control Ordinance after receiving reports in March about polluted water entering the river.

It was discovered that wastewater was being discharged from Mei Lam Shopping Centre on Mei Tin Road near Tai Wai railway station, into the river via underground storm drains.

The department said yesterday that Link REIT had been told to immediately take steps to rectify the problem and prevent future recurrence of similar incidents.

The company pleaded guilty yesterday at Fan Ling Magistrates' Court to the charge of illegal wastewater discharge.

Sha Tin district councillor Scarlett Pong Oi-lan believes that though the fine is not heavy, there would be a negative impact on Link REIT, whose reputation could be undermined as a result of the punishment.

"It does have a deterrent effect," she said.

Pong, who received complaints about pollution in the river almost daily six months ago, said residents of Man Lai Court, a private housing estate in Tai Wai, had about a month ago complained about dead fish and a bad smell from the river.

The government is tracking the sources of other pollutants in the river. It is speculated that some contaminated colored water and car wash water found in the river was discharged from the Fo Tan industrial area and garages in the district, according to Pong.

"Apart from identifying the source of pollutants, the authorities must also clean the river regularly," she said.

About 100 bags of dead fish were collected from the Shing Mun River in February after a report compiled by a private laboratory in Fo Tan, and provided by Pong, last year showed that the river had a pH level of 5.7, which was 2.9 times higher than normal.

Under the ordinance, any person who discharges wastewater into storm drains, streams or the sea is liable for a maximum fine of HK$200,000 and six months' imprisonment.

A maximum fine of HK$400,000 and six months' imprisonment can be imposed for second and subsequent convictions.

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