10 hurt after collapse at waste-treat center

Top News | Erin Chan 15 Jun 2020

Ten male workers were injured when metal scaffolding collapsed as they were repairing an incinerator at the Chemical Waste Treatment Centre in Tsing Yi.

A total of 99 officers from the Fire Services Department - including firefighters, ambulance workers and rescuers - were dispatched to the scene at 9.20am yesterday after four workers became trapped under rubble inside the chimney of the incinerator at 51 Tsing Yi Road.

The rescue took 65 minutes.

Hung Tak-shing, commander of Kwai Chung fire station, said 12 workers were working on various levels of metal scaffolding to repair a seven-story incinerator before the platform collapsed partially at 9am. The incinerator measures 25 meters high and four meters in diameter and is under annual repair maintenance.

Hung said the scaffolding frames, which had a two-meter space between each level, fell on 10 workers, trapping four of them.

"The part of the incinerator where the four were trapped was about five to seven meters from the ground," he said.

But the other six were able to leave the site on their own, he added.

The 10 injured workers - aged between 22 and 61 - who suffered injuries to their heads, backs, pelvises or limbs, were all taken, conscious, to three hospitals by seven ambulances.

Four were taken to Princess Margaret Hospital in Kwai Chung, three to Yan Chai Hospital in Tsuen Wan and the rest to Caritas Medical Center in Sham Shui Po, said Liu Kay-yip, the commander of Tsing Yi and Penny's Bay Ambulance Depot.

As of 5pm yesterday, one remained in serious condition, eight were stable, and one had been discharged, according to the Hospital Authority.

Hung said the rescue process was meticulous as there were lots of rubble on the scene, including bricks and the partially-collapsed scaffolding. "The narrow space inside the incinerator made rescue operations difficult," he added.

Lam Sun-dik, senior station officer of the Urban Search and Rescue Team, said a heavy metal pole was brought to the scene to support the partially-collapsed scaffolding.

"Flashlights, life detectors, a 360-degree camera and a search-and-rescue dog were also deployed to search for trapped workers as the environment was narrow and the light was dim there," he said.

The Environmental Protection Department said it is highly concerned about the work accident.

"We have requested the operator of the center to hand in a report regarding the accident within a month so the department can follow up," a spokesman for the department said.

The Labour Department said it had started an immediate on-site investigation as soon as it was notified of the accident, and suspended the use of metal scaffolding on the scene and any activities carried out in the incinerator.

"The contractors concerned and the occupier of the premises cannot resume the work process until the department is satisfied that measures to abate the relevant risk have been taken," a spokesman for the department said.

The center, which collects, analyzes and treats up to 100,000 tonnes of chemical waste a year, first began operating in 1993.

erin.chan@singtaonewscorp.com

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