Date
19 October 2017
A task force comprising officials from various government departments will check water-related infrastructure at Kai Ching Estate amid a lead contamination scare. Photos: Bloomberg, Commercial Radio
A task force comprising officials from various government departments will check water-related infrastructure at Kai Ching Estate amid a lead contamination scare. Photos: Bloomberg, Commercial Radio

Cross-departmental task force to handle water probe

The government is setting up a cross-departmental task force to look into water safety issues following the discovery of excessive levels of lead in water supplied to some units at a public housing estate in the city.

The task force, which will be led by a deputy director of the Water Supplies Department, will inspect the copper pipes, compression release valves, water taps and other infrastructure at Kai Ching Estate, RTHK reported.

According to the Housing Authority, about half of the bathrooms and one-sixth of the kitchens, in terms of numbers, in the estate were constructed with modular and prefabricated building materials supplied from China.

The department admitted that checks were not carried on lead levels when receiving the materials.

China State Construction International Holdings (03311.HK), the main contractor of Kai Ching Estate, said on its website that half of the construction work at the public housing estate was completed using modular and prefabricated buildings materials supplied by its unit Shenzhen Hailong Building Products Co. 

However, the company did not say if the modular materials included bathrooms and kitchens that come with water pipes, Ming Pao reported.

The construction firm mentioned in its corporate publications in March that it had pioneered the unprecedented use of 6,200 prefabricated kitchens and bathrooms modules in Hong Kong at a project in the Kai Tak area.

China State Construction has yet to officially respond to the lead contamination controversy at Kai Ching Estate since the news surfaced eight days ago. A spokesperson was however quoted as saying that the firm will cooperate in the government investigation.

Director of Housing Stanley Ying Yiu-hong said the Housing Authority has the legal rights to pin responsibility on the main contractor if any lapses are uncovered.

China State was first registered in Hong Kong in 1979 and it was listed on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange in 2005.

The company has won many large-scale construction projects, including the Kai Ching Estate, Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macao Bridge Hong Kong Link Road and Central-Wan Chai Bypass trunk road.

A licensed plumber, Lam Tak-sum, who was named by the government as holding some responsibility in the tainted water scare, said on Monday that he was being made a scapegoat.

The plumber stressed that he was only responsible for the water pipes from the streets to the water tanks of Kai Ching Estate.

Enoch Lam Tin-sing, Director of Water Supplies, has said that Lam Tak-sum was responsible for some of the water pipes inside the public housing units.

Lam Tak-sum’s company had also handled water pipe work at the Lung Yat Estate, Cheung Sha Wan Estate, Shui Chuen O Estate, Kwai Luen Estate, Wu Yee Sun College Hostel of the CUHK and Kowloon City Government Offices.

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