Tens of thousands of residents in at least five public housing estates may be at risk of drinking unsafe water, after excessive lead content was found in water samples from Kai Ching Estate in Kowloon City.
The government said the contractor responsible for water pipes at Kai Ching Estate also handled those at Lung Yat Estate in Tuen Mun, Cheung Sha Wan Estate, Shui Chuen O Estate in Sha Tin and Kwai Luen Estate in Kwai Chung, Apple Daily reported.
This means that up to 50,000 of people could be exposed to the risk of drinking water with excessive lead content, according to the report.
One water sample taken at Kai Ching was found to contain 35.1 mg of lead per liter of water, which is three and a half times the safe level recommended by the World Health Organization.
So far 280 residents have applied for blood tests amid fears the water they are drinking is unsafe.
In an inter-departmental meeting held on Saturday, Chief Secretary Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor stressed that residents of public housing estates must be assured of safe drinking water.
Water samples from the other four public housing estates will be tested, and water pipes were laid overnight to supply water to residents.
Many residents of Kai Ching Estate have opted to fetch water from temporary water pipes on the streets to prepare for dinner, and eateries nearby followed suit.
Director of Housing Stanley Ying Yiu-hong said the housing department has been transparent in handling the case and would ask the contractor, China Construction, to submit a proposal to replace the water pipes in question.
Legislator Claudia Mo earlier criticized Ying for allegedly lacking the will to pursue those responsible for the tainted water supply.
Meanwhile, legislator Ann Chiang Lai-wan of the pro-establishment Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong confirmed that her husband Raymond Leung Hoi-ming is a shareholder and non-executive independent director of the parent company of China Construction.
She stressed that Leung was not aware of the tainted water incident but will raise it at a board meeting and urge management to conduct an investigation and offer an explanation to the public.
Chiang had earlier raised doubts on a media report that water in Kai Ching Estate is contaminated, saying the tests might not have been professionally done.
However, after the government announced that seven test samples from the estate showed the same result of having excessive lead content, Chiang said the government should arrange to have all concerned residents tested.
Chiang was criticized for commenting on the case without disclosing that her husband is a director in the company involved in the case.
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