Date
22 October 2017
Panel head Cheung Tat-tong (inset, left), with  Housing Secretary Anthony Cheung, said the government and construction firms were not aware of the danger to human health posed by the welding materials used in the water pipes. Photos: HKEJ
Panel head Cheung Tat-tong (inset, left), with Housing Secretary Anthony Cheung, said the government and construction firms were not aware of the danger to human health posed by the welding materials used in the water pipes. Photos: HKEJ

Water quality review panel finds loopholes in govt monitoring

Both the Housing Authority and construction companies lack sufficient knowledge of the risks posed by lead-containing welding materials to human health and their impact on the quality of drinking water, according to a water quality review committee.

In a mid-term report released on Tuesday, the Review Committee on Quality Assurance Issues Relating to Fresh Water Supply of Public Housing Estates, which was formed in July, said loopholes exist in the monitoring performed by the Housing Authority and the Water Supplies Department, am730 reported.

The report came three months after the lead-tainted water scandal broke out in the city.

At least 10 public housing estates have been found to have drinking water supply with excessive levels of lead, affecting not only adults but also babies and schoolchildren.

The review panel said the fact that multiple contractors, plumbing subcontractors and plumbers were involved in the saga shows the current mechanism to ensure the quality of drinking water in public estates is defective.

Normally a certificate of water supply availability cannot be issued until inspectors finish a sample test on the completed water supply system.

But the problem is both the Housing Authority and the Water Supplies Department did not pay much attention to possible lead contamination and did not list welding materials as high-risk items, said committee chairman Cheung Tat-tong, a quantity surveyor.

He also noted that the sample tests did not cover lead.

The committee urged the Housing Authority to improve its current practices to prevent lead contamination of water supply in public estates currently under construction.

It said it will interview stakeholders to seek their opinions on solutions and will present a final report to the Housing Authority by the end of the year.

Legislator Helena Wong Pik-wan of the Democratic Party, who first exposed the contamination scandal in July, slammed the mid-term report as useless, noting that it lacks factual details, proposed measures, timeframe, who should be held accountable and who should be punished.

Wong said the final report is likely to be same.

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TL/AC/CG

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