CARRIE LAM

                             WASHINGTON,  DC

                             DECEMBER 1988

                        TABLE OF CONTENTS
                                             Paragraph Number
fV      Introduction

\      Environmental Protection  Authorities

*V      Air Quality Management  .

^      Water Quality Management

        Solid Waste Management

        Hazardous Waste Management

        Toxic Substances and Pesticides

        Noise Abatement

        Public/Private Partnership

        Environmental Education

















                           HEADQUARTERS LIBRARY
                           ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY

                           WASHINGTON, D.C. 20460



1.    This paper describes  the work and responsibilities of
the  United  States  Environmental  Protection  Agency  and
discusses the lessons that could be drawn by Hong Kong from
the  US experience  in^  addressing  her major  environmental
problems.  The various; US reports and documents referred to
in  the paper are  available  for perusal  by those  who are
interested.   Description  of  the  Hong  Kong  situation  is
based  on  my personal understanding and information on the
report entitled Environment Hong Kong 1986 published by the
Hong  Kong Environmental  Protection Department.    As  this
paper  was  written  during my  stay  in the  US,  attempts  have
not  been made  to  verify  or  update  the  quoted data and
information.          \

2.   As one environmentalist puts it, environmental efforts
are often reactive--emerging in response to a crisis.  This
remark is  certainly  applicable to the US.   In 1969, globs
of  crude  oil  began  washing up  on the  beaches  of  Santa
Barbara, California.   Other cases of gross pollution during
the  late  1960s  led • to  the  birth of  an  environmental
movement  in  the  US.:    Two  landmarks  in  environmental
protection took place 'in 1970: the celebration of Earth Day
and the  creation  of  the US Environmental Protection Agency
(hereinafter referred to as EPA or the Agency.)

Creation of the US EPA

3.   On  22 April 1970,  tens  of  thousands  of  Americans
gathered all over the;country in celebration of Earth Day,
with  a  national  outpouring  concern for  cleaning  up  the
environment.  It was soon clear to President Nixon that the
Administration  could ! not  respond  to  public  demand  to
protect  the environment  without first  creating  a  single
agency to  take charge.   An  executive  reorganisation plan
was   drawn  up   to   consolidate  a  number  of  federal
environmental  activities  into  a  new  agency.    EPA  was
created as an independent agency in the Executive Branch on
2 December 1970.      ;

4.   EPA was formed by bringing together 15 components from
the Department  of the^ Interior, Department of Agriculture,
Food   and   Drug   Administration,   Department  of  Health,
Education,  and  Welfare,  and the Federal Radiation Council.
But  many  federal agencies  and departments continue  to
perform  functions tha't  have a  significant   impact  on  the
environment.  For example, the Department of Agriculture is
responsible  for   promoting  safe  use  of  pesticides  on

 farmlands  and  developing  the  Integrated  Pest  Management
 Programme;  the US Forest Service looks after all  National
 Parks across the  country; the Pish and Wildlife  Service  and
 the  Soil  Conservation.  Service  have  active  wetlands  and
 endangered  species  ^programmes;   the  Food   and  Drug
 Administration  regulates pesticide  residues  in  food  and
 promotes  consumer safety;  the Corps of Engineers  controls
 disposal of dredged and fill material in the ocean;  and  the
 Department  of  the Interior determines land use,  off-shore
 drilling,  and  construction  of dams  and drainages.  On  the
 other hand, there are federal agencies whose work conflicts
 with  EPA's  mandate:  for example, the  Department of Energy
 and the  Department  of  [Defense are major polluters  in  terms
 of  their nuclear plants and  equipment.   Safe disposal of
 the millions  of tons  of nuclear waste generated by  these
 facilities  remain a  major problem yet  to be tackled by  the
 US Government.         I
 5.   The US EPA is  directed  by  an Administrator  appointed
 by   the  President.  j  He   is   assisted  by   a  Deputy
 Administrator;  nine Assistant  Administrators,  who manage
 specific  environmental  programme  areas   (i.e.  air   and
 radiation,  water,  solid  waste  and  emergency  response,
 pesticides  and  toxic  substances,   and  research   and
 development)  or direct  general  Agency functions (such as
 external  affairs,  resource  management,  enforcement,   and
 policy  planning   and  evaluation) ;     two   Associate
 Administrators who take charge of international  affairs  and
 regional  operations;  and ten Regional Administrators  who
 administer environmental federal laws across the country.

 6.   Substantial  achievements  were made during the 1970s,
 both   in  terms  of i provision of   pollution   abatement
 facilities  and  promulgation of environmental laws.  In  the
 early  1970s,  Congress! enacted a series of  laws—the Clean
 Air Act, the Clean Water Act,  the Safe Drinking  Water Act—
 to  curb pollution.   i In the late   1970s,  a  new  wave of
 environmental  problems  associated with hazardous materials
 occurred   and   Congress   passed   another   series  of
 environmental  laws—the  Resource Conservation and Recovery
 Act,   the  Comprehensive   Environmental   Response,
 Compensation,  and Liability Act, and  the Toxic  Substances
 Control Act.         ;    '

'EPA under the Reagan Administration

 7.   Environmental  protection  work  suffered  a  severe
 setback   during  the  early   years  of  the   Reagan
 Administration.  With lits emphasis on de-regulation  and  its
 pro-industry  stance, ;  the  enforcement  vigour  of  EPA  was
 largely compromised.  Political appointees who were  neither
 qualified  nor  committed  to  protecting  the   environment

headed  the Interior  Department and  EPA.   All  the people
within  or outside  the Agency  to  whom  I  had  spoken  were
upset  by the environmental neglect  and  mismanagement,  and
the  low  morale  of i Agency  staff  during  that  period.
Enforcement of  environmental  laws was relaxed,  the budget
was  severely  cut,  and scandals involving  senior EPA staff
were  uncovered.    This  era  ended in   1983  with   the
resignation  of  the EPA  Administrator  and the Assistant
Administrator- in charge of  Superfund, who was subsequently
indicted and  sentenced' to prison.

8.   Although  EPA  has.  since  recovered  some  of its  lost
ground  under   more ;capable  leadership,   the   Reagan
Administration  remains  unenthusiastic about  environmental
protection.   Amendment's to  the Clean Water Act unanimously
passed  by  Congress were vetoed twice by President  Reagan,
action  on acid rain jwas unjustifiably  delayed,  and  EPA
continued to  suffer extensive budget cuts despite an almost
twofold  increase in workload.  As Jay Hair,  President  of
the  National  Wildlife  Federation,  described in response to
enquiries in a press conference, environmentalists had  been
totally  cut   off .from; the  White  House  during  the Reagan
Administration;   inadequate   Presidential  leadership   to
protect  the  environment was  evident at both  the domestic
and  international level•

9.   The   lack  of  federal   enthusiasm  has,  however,
accelerated the growth!of environmental movement in the  US.
Membership in many national environmental  groups,  such  as
the  Sierra Club and the National Audubon Society, was more
than  doubled   during  the   1980s;   new  non-governmental
environmental groups and coalitions were formed, and a much
wider agenda was being ; adopted.  Environmental concerns  are
no  longer  confined  to  local  air,  water,   land  pollution;
they cover a  diversity  of subjects from  population  growth,
global climate  change, energy  resources  to preservation of
wetlands and  protection of  endangered species.   To ensure
that  the   next   President  will   provide  the  necessary
national  and  international  leadership  on  environmental
protection,   the  American  environmental   community  came
together to  prepare a! Blueprint  for the  Environment  for
President-elect Bush.  'The Blueprint contains more than  700
detailed recommendations,  and  addresses  old  and emerging
environmental problems.,

10.  Although Bush is , part  of  the  Reagan  legacy, it  is
generally  believed  that  EPA  would  be  given a  stronger
profile under his Administration.   This is due to increased
public  concern  over the  deterioration  of  environmental
quality;  the  strong  'pressure  from  local  environmental
groups  and overseas communities,  such as  Canada  and  the
United Nations Environment Programme; and Bush's own pledge

as  an environmentalist' during his campaign.   His specific
campaign  promises  on   environmental   issues   include
reductions  of  acid rain  precursors,  no  net  loss  in  the
country's  wetlands,  an  effective  Clean  Air  Act/ and  a
global  initiative  to  address  international   problems,
including  the greenhouse  effect.   But the  first question
that  he  needs to address  is whether  to make EPA a cabinet-
level  department.   In Itheir Blueprintfor the Environment,
environmentalists   argue   that   given  the  magnitude  and
importance of the environmental  problems  facing  the US and
the  world,  "those  primarily responsible   for  dealing  with
them must sit in the highest councils of government."  They
therefore  recommend the  creation • of  a  new cabinet-level
Department  of  Environmental  Protection  to  replace  the
present  EPA.           .

Creation of  a New  Environment and Planning  Branch in Hong
Kong                   '
11.  While the future i status of  the  US EPA has  yet to be
determined,  I understand  that  active arrangements  are in
hand  in  Hong  Kong  to jcreate a  new  policy  branch  for  the
environment   and  planning  and,  as   a .first  step,   the
pollution  control  division has  already   been  transferred
from  the Health and Welfare Branch to  the Lands  and Works
Branch.  I strongly support the proposed reorganisation:

(a)  as  an  integral  part of any aggressive  programme to
     cope with our environmental problems;
(b)  as  a  firm  indication to the  public of  Government's
     commitment to clean up the environment;

(c)  as  a  step towards coordinating  all  efforts  currently
     undertaken  by  various  departments  and   assuming
     supervisory oversight of Government  departments which
     could turn out to 'be potential  polluters;  and
(d)  as  an  opportunity   for  greater  initiatives  to  be
     undertaken in the 'areas of environmental education and
     publicity.        •

12.  At  a   philosophical   level,  our   concern   for   the
environment   should  not   be confined to  public  health
considerations.   We sHould  have  an  equal concern  for  our
land,  water,  and natural  resources  which we  inherit  from
our  ancestors and  which   we  should   pass  onto our  future
generations without any significant  depletion.   The removal
of  environmental  protection from the jurisdiction  of  the
Health and Welfare  Branch is therefore conceptually a  move
in the right direction.'

13.  As a matter  of fact,  environmental protection work in
many   countries   places  a   strong   emphasis   on  nature
conservation and ecological improvements:  The Constitution
of  the People's Republic  of  China states that  "The State
shall  protect,  and  improve  the  living  environment  and
ecological  (my  underlining) environment,  and  shall control
pollution  and  other j public  hazards";  the  US  EPA  has
separate offices devoted to the protection of wetlands and
estuaries;  the  Japanese Environment Agency has  a division
on  nature   conservation;  and  Singapore  has   an  active
interdepartmental  programme to restore damaged  ecosystems.
The diversity  of  species, the existence of  wetlands  etc.
are necessary for  the;normal  functioning of  ecosystems and
the biosphere,  of  which man  is  a  part.   As  the  Report of
the World  Commission ion  Environment  and  Development  puts
it,  "  ....  utility aside>  there  are  also moral,  ethical,
cultural,  aesthetic, ; and  purely  scientific  reasons  for
conserving wild beings;."

14.  With   formulation  of   environmental   policies   and
coordination  of   environmental  protection  work  being
undertaken by branch, it may not be necessary, in my
view,   to further  transfer  functions  currently performed by
other  departments,  such as the regulation of  pesticide use
by  the Agriculture  arid  Fisheries  Department,  the control
over  vehicle emissions  by the Police  and   the  Transport
Department,  to  the Environmental  Protection  Department.
Ideally,  environmental  goals  and  guidelines   should  be
infused   into  the  work  and  consideration  of   each
department.   In  practice, EPD  has  undergone  substantial
structural  changes  'in   recent  years   and  has  assumed
additional  responsibilities.    It  would  not be  wise  to
overburden it at this stage.
The US Clean Air Act 1970

15.  The Clean  Air Act of  1970  was Congress'  response  to
deteriorating  air  quality  in  the  US  as  a  result  of
increased  industrialisation,  urbanisation,  and a  growing
dependence  on  automobiles.   The Act  requires EPA to  set
National Ambient  Air  Quality Standards to  place limits  on
pollution  levels.    Two  types  of  standards  specifying
maximum acceptable levels for six pollutants in outdoor air
have been  established:  primary standards set  limits  which
protect  human  health;  including   "sensitive  population",
such as children  or  the elderly;  while secondary standards
protect  plants  and  animals  from harmful  effects  of  air
pollution.     The  six  regulated  pollutants  ares   carbon

iV 1
        monoxide, sulphur dioxide, nitrogen oxides, lead, ozone and
        particulates.         ;

        16.  In  the  case-  of;  control  of emissions  from  mobile
        sources,  the  US  EPA:  has  promulgated  federal  emission-
        control  requirements for  new vehicles.   Every  new model
        automobile, whether  locally produced or imported, has to go
        through an extensive test procedure under the Federal Motor
        Vehicle Control Programme in the EPA laboratory in Michigan
        before  they  can be  sold in  the  country.   To  ensure that
        manufacturers  are   producing   their   cars  properly,  the
        Agency  operates  an  Assembly  Line  Test  Programme  which
        involves  a  random   testing  of  cars   immediately off  the
        assembly  line in the i plants  where  they  are  manufactured
        (which  entails  visits;  to  overseas producers in  Japan and
        West Germany) and an active programme to recall cars in use
        for   inspection.     Individual   states  also   implement
        inspection programmes '> under  EPA  oversight to  ensure that
        car owners are properly maintaining their cars.

        17.  Another major aspect  of EPA's mobile source emissions
        control  efforts is  its  fuel  program.    Since   the  early
        1970s, EPA has required the lead content of all gasoline to
        be reduced over  time. '  The lead content of leaded gasoline
        was reduced in 1985  from 1.0 gram/gallon to 0.5 gram/gallon
        and further in 1986 to|0.1 gram/gallon.  (As far as I know,
        the maximum permitted lead content in gasoline in Hong Kong
        is  now  0.15 grams  per  litre or roughly  0.6   grams  per
        gallon.)   In addition,  EPA  requires  the use of unleaded
        gasoline in  many cars 'beginning in 1975.   Currently, about
        70 percent of the gas 'sold is unleaded.  Active  research is
        being conducted on alternative fuels,  such as  the addition
        of  methanol  to  gasoline   to   reduce  carbon  monoxide
        emissions.            ;

        18.  All these efforts'have significantly reduced the level
        of pollutants released  from automobiles.   Unfortunately,
        emission reduction has  been  accompanied  by a  growth in car
        ownership and .a rapid [increase in  mileage travelled.   As a
        result,  many  metropolitan  areas  in  the  US  are  still
        suffering  from  the  smog problem,  notably  Los  Angeles,
        Houston, and Philadelphia.

        19.  To help  ensure  compliance with air  quality standards
        by  stationary  sources',  EPA  sets New Source  Performance
        Standards that limit emissions allowed from new industrial
        plants   and   existing   plants  which  are  substantially
        modified.  Standards are now in effect for most industries.
        Since national performance  standards  apply only  to  new or
        modified plants, these  controls are  generally not adequate
        on themselves to  assure  acceptable  air  quality.    State
        governments are therefore  required to draw up  and enforce

state  implementation ;plans,  which  spell  out  additional
measures  necessary  tb  achieve  acceptable  air  quality.
These usually  include, controls  on older  industrial  plants
and other stationary sources.

20.  The Clean  Air Act also  requires  EPA to  set  national
emission standards  for substances that  are so  toxic  that
even small  amounts  may adversely affect health.   To date,
EPA has set  such  standards  for  eight  hazardous substances:
asbestos,   arsenic,-  benzene,  beryllium,  mercury,
radionuclides,  vinyl chloride  and coke oven  emissions.

21.  Although air quality in  the  US has  generally  improved
in  the  last two  decades,  with  a  decrease  in the ambient
levels of all the six regulated  pollutants,  about 100 urban
areas  across the  country  are  still  unable  to  meet   the
national standards for ozone and carbon monoxide  at the end
of the specified deadline of  31 August  1988  and  have since
been subject to sanctions in terms  of limitations on  new
emissions,  such as  the  imposition  of  a  construction ban in
urban regions in southern California.

22.  The Clean  Air  Act was  a  subject  of  intense  debate
during the  100th  Congress.   When Congress ended without
being able  to  reauthorise the  Act  (the Clean Air Act  was
last   amended  in  1977  with   an  authorisation   for
appropriations   to  expire in  1981.    Since  then,  although
authorities  in  the Act  continue,  and  funding  has  been
provided,  the  Act  has  not been  formally reauthorised  by
Congress),  both environmentalists and  senior EPA staff  have
openly expressed their  disappointment.   The major  obstacle
towards an  agreement; was  the  acid  rain  issue  on  which
provisions  had  been put forward  to  reduce  the  amounts  of
sulphur dioxide and nitrogen  oxides.   The  arch-opponents,
as  expected, were  Congressmen  representing states with  a
huge stake  in coal and automobile industries.
Air Pollution Control in Hong  Kong

23.  In Hong Kong,  the  Air  Pollution  Control  Ordinance
provides   powers   for  the  regulation  of   emission   of
pollutants  into the  atmosphere  from stationary sources  and
the  Road   Traffic  Ordinance  regulates   pollution   from
vehicles.     Their  respective   subsidiary  legislation
stipulates  design requirements  for furnaces,  chimneys,  and
vehicle engines.    However, unlike the  US  approach which
stipulates  national  standards for  compliance  regardless of
location and the present state of air  quality in  individual
regions,  air quality management  in  Hong Kong proceeds  on
the basis of declared  zones.    The basic structure of  the
Air Pollution Control; Ordinance is the declaration of  Air
Control  Zones  and  the   establishment  of   Air  Quality

Objectives.   The  aim • is  to achieve  specified objectives
within  each  declared'  zone  as  soon  as  practicable  by
implementing  air  quality management  plans.   This  is also
the  approach  adopted;  in  Hong  Kong's  water  management
programme.    While  it  is  appreciated  that the   two  Air
Control Zones declared'so far already cover the majority of
the  population  and  industrial  activity  in  Hong Kong  and
that  a  fully-fledged;  programme  would  require  extensive
monitoring  data   and •  resources,   the  following  factors
perhaps justify a reconsideration of the present approach:

(a)  it  is  practically not  feasible  to deal with  air,
     water,  or  soil  in a  sectoral  fashion.   Apart from
     being  a subject of  contamination,  the  atmosphere  is
     also  a  medium for transporting  pollutants,  hence the
     problem of acid rain;

(b)  environmental  protection  should  aim at  anticipation
     and  prevention  rather than an  after-the-fact  remedy.
     It is sensible both from cost-effectiveness and public
     health points of view to abate pollution problems well
     before  they  reach   unmanageable  dimensions.    The
     question to ask  about  environmental not
     "Can  we  afford to do  it  eventually?"   It is  "Can  we
     afford' not to do it now?"   Anticipation and prevention
   .  is the  theme  of a  recent  EPA Science  Advisory  Board
     report  entitled  Future Risk; Research  Strategies  for
     thejiLi1990s  which recommends  the shifting  of  emphasis
     from end-of-pipe controls  to preventing the generation
     of pollution;  and;
(c)  the  experience  of  the rapid deterioration of  beaches
     on the  southern  shore  of the Hong Kong  Island  and the
     subsequent urgency to  declare  it as a Water Pollution
     Control  Zone  indicates that our  valuable  environment
     could  suffer  as'  a  result  of  prioritisation.    An
     artificially imposed "waiting list" could give rise to
     irreparable environmental  damages.
Emission of Toxic Pollutants
24.  The  air pollutants  which  are the  subjects of  Hong
Kong's  Air  Quality  Objectives  are  identical  to  those
regulated  under  the 1  US   National  Ambient  Air  Quality
Standards  although  no  comparison  has  been  made  of  the
respective maximum acceptable levels.  However, there is no
reference in  the  Hong Kong programme  to  emission of toxic
pollutants (perhaps with the exception of asbestos which is
the  subject  of  a   Code  of  Practice).   As  pointed  out
earlier, toxic substances can cause damages to human health

                       ;      9

even  if  they are present  in small amounts.  In  fact,  the
treatment  and disposal  of  toxic  chemicals is  one of  my
major concerns after  having  seen the exorbitant  price  paid
and  is  still being  paid by  the Americans in cleaning  up
their hazardous  waste 'sites.  We  should  learn from the  US
experience  that  we won't  have  the  time and resources  to
damage our  environment now and  to  clean  it up  later.   (See
later  section on  hazardous  waste  and   the  US  Superfund
programme.)            ;

Pollution from Stationary Sources
25.  According   to   my  understanding,   the  Hong   Kong
Environmental  Protection  Department  regulates  air
pollutants  from  industries under the Air Pollution Control
regulations in respect of  (1)  specified  processes;  and (2)
the  installation and  alteration of  furnaces, chimneys  and
ovens.  Specified processes are those which constitute  high
environmental risks   and  currently  include a list of  23
types of metal,  plastic, chemical-and petrochemical works,
power stations,  and  cement  works.   A licensing  system  is
being operated for conducting new specified processes while
existing  ones are exempted  until a  time when the plants
used are replaced or  modified.   The  questions are:  are the
internal 'standards  adopted  by  the  licensing   authority
sufficiently  stringent  to   protect  human  health and  the
environment?   Is  the  law  being  enforced vigorously  and

26.  During my  stay  i'n  the  US,  I was told repeatedly  by
environmentalists that we  could  not expect industries  to
comply with environmental  requirements voluntarily.   They
have to be hit,  and hit hard, in order to make them realize
that  it  is  more   economical   to  incorporate   pollution
abatement devices in  their  industrial process than to  face
the  possibilities of  heavy fines.   Polluters must  be  made
to pay.  Fines and other sanctions must  be determined  at a
level  sufficient  to !result in  the  essential   deterrent
effect.  A  fine  of a  few thousand dollars is  certainly not
going to create that impact.   Members of  the public in  Hong
Kong  have  already  suffered  more than  necessary  under  a
"gentle   and  kind"   enforcement  approach which  places
emphasis on advice rather than prosecution. (See  para.  3.32
of the EPD's  report  entitled Environment  Hong Kono 1986.)
They have never  given: industrialists or  even the  Hong  Kong
Government  the   endorsement  to  contaminate the  air  they
breathe,  the water they drink, or the environment  they  live
in.    My  experience in the  Securities  Review  Committee
Secretariat told me  that regulation  is  not going. to  kill
business;   instead   'it  is  essential   to   sustainable
prosperity  and  development,  whether  in  the   securities
industry  or  the manufacturing  industry.    ("Sustainable


development"  is  the theme of a  1987  UN  report  prepared by
the   World  Commission   on   Environment  and  Development
entitled Our  Common Future.   It  is  defined as  development
which  will  satisfy current  needs  without  lessening  the
potential for meeting |the needs of future generations. )

Pollution from Mobile Sources

27.  In Hong  Kong,  standards  on  the  design of vehicles  are
pegged  to  those  adopted in the  western  industrialised
nations.    The  Road  Traffic  Ordinance   (Construction  and
Maintenance of  Vehicles). Regulations require new vehicles
to  meet   exhaust  emission   standards   of  the  Economic
Commission of Europe, tU.K., USA  or Australia.   In the  case
of  inspection  programmes  for  in-service  vehicles,   the
current   pre-registration  requirement,   the   annual
examination of vehicles manufactured before a certain date,
and the kerbs ide smok'emeter  checks  appear to  be adequate
safeguards.-           !
28.  In my view, there  are  two  other  aspects  in  our  air
quality management program  which could be  looked at  in
detail.  First,  the lead content in fuel.  Given the proven
damage of lead on human health, Hong Kong should accelerate
the reduction of  lead1 content and the ultimate banning of
all lead in  gasoline in future.  Second,  Hong  Kong should
learn  the  lesson  from! the US experience and  place greater
emphasis on  traffic management to avoid  air  quality gains
accrued from  emission- controls  being offset by  growth in
Vehicle miles travelled.  Apart from the absolute number of
vehicles on the road, attention should be given to reducing
congestion.  Laboratory tests in the US have indicated  that
emission   levels  from   vehicles  are  far  greater  in  a
frequent   stop-and-start  situation  than  during  smooth
traffic.    Reduction iin  traffic intensity  is  therefore
important  to improving  air   quality in  the  urban  area.
While  opening of the [second  cross  harbour tunnel  and  the
building of  more highways will  help, improvements  to  the
public  transport   and   the   mass  transit  system  should
continue to be a priority.
Acid Rain

29.  Acid  rain  and  interstate air pollution  has  become an
increasingly serious environmental problem  in the US since
the late 1970s.   Canada and many northeastern states in  the
US  are  suffering  from  acid rain   formed by  the  heavy
emissions  of sulphur! dioxide  from major  coal-producing
states  in  the  Mid-West,  including  Ohio,  Indiana,   and
Illinois.     In   the past  few  Congresses,  acid  rain  had
emerged as the primary, focus  of attempts to amend the Clean
Air Act.   Several bills had  been introduced  to tackle  the

                      <       11
problem  and,   generally   speaking,   they  fell  into  two
categories: one type  of amendments aimed at establishing a
regulatory programme  mandating  emission reductions (which,
of  course, was  strongly  resisted  by  the  coal-producing
industry  and  states  ,on  the  ground  of drastic  economic
implications);  another type of legislation proposed a clean
coal programme  to be developed under federal assistance.

30.  The Reagan Administration has been severely criticized
by  environmentalists ;  in   the   US  and  by  its  Canadian
counterpart for failing to  initiate any control actions on
the excuse that the problem is  not sufficiently urgent and
serious  to  require  [immediate  action.    However,  given
mounting evidence of  the damaging effects  of  acid rain on
the ecosystem  and President-elect  Bush's pledge during his
campaign to  do  something  about it,  environmentalists  are
optimistic  that  the  : Clean Air  Act  will   be amended  to
include acid rain control  provisions during the first year
of the next Congress.  ;
31.  The Environment Hong Kong 1986 report published by the
Environmental  Protection Department  states  that "acid rain
is clearly occurring in Hong Kong although not at a serious
level."  While research efforts are  underway  to determine
whether acid rain in  Hong  Kong  is  caused by air pollutants
emitted  locally  or from  external  sources,  acid  rain  is
likely to  become an increasingly  serious problem  as  China
resorts to more  coal-burning  in her  pursuit  for  economic
development.   The share of the  People's Republic  of  China
and the Soviet Union  !in the global  fossil  fuel combustion
is rapidly rising and is expected  to increase further.   In
a  recent  article written by  Dr LI  Changsheng  for the EPA
Journal, it is  stated Ithat China consumes about 580 million
tons  of  coal  annually as  fuel:  430 million  tons  for
industrial  use   and;  150  million  tons   for  domestic
consumption.     Because  of  market  demand  pressure  and
inadequate  facilities; for  processing  coal, 75  percent of
the coal flows directly into plant  boilers or home stoves
in its raw state without washing or other processing. .  The
"dirty" coal  contains^  on  average,  23  percent ash and 1.7
percent sulphur.    As !a result, about 15 million  tons of
sulphur  dioxide   are  emitted   every  year  causing  acid
precipitation  in  manyj parts of China,  particularly in the
southern region.    Drt Li is  Senior Scientific  Adviser of
China's National  Environmental  Protection Agency currently
on a  research  fellowship  at the  EPA  laboratory  in  North
Carolina.              :

32.  The US/Canada  experience on  acid rain  and Great Lakes
pollution  has  demonstrated  that  environmental  problems
transcend national boundaries.  They are a mutual threat to
the well being  of all inhabitants on the planet and require

                      '       12
 joint  efforts.     Against   this  background,   stronger
 collaboration between Hong Kong and the Chinese authorities
 should  be developed. ' The  joint  efforts  between  Hong Kong
 and   the   Guangdong  Environmental  Protection  Bureau  on
 monitoring  and  managing water quality in  Deep Bay and the
 Shenzhen  River   are  good   precedents.     Air  quality
 management,  and the  question  of  acid rain  in particular,
 should  be on the  list(  of  a joint agenda  for  action.   (In
 1987,  the  US  EPA  signed  a  bilateral  agreement  with the
 People's  Republic  of  China.     Potential  areas  for
 cooperative  research include  exchange  of information and
 development  of  data on future  energy development  plans,
 emissions  from   rice  fields   and   other   sources,  and
 concentration of trace'gases in remote regions.)

 33.  Other  major  air quality issues that  have attracted  a
 lot  of  attention during my  stay  in the US  are indoor air
 pollution,  depletion of  the stratospheric ozone layer, and
 the  so-called "greenhouse effect".

 Indoor Air Pollution

 34.  Although  the  US|  clean  air  legislation  focuses  on
 outdoor  air pollution',  public concern  has  been  mounting
 over  the  adverse  effects  on public  health  from several
 indoor  air  pollutants,  especially  radon.    Radon  is  an
 ubiquitous, colourless',  odorless  gas that occurs  naturally
 in  soil  containing  uranium.     It seeps  into  buildings
 through inadequately sealed  basements  and slabs.   The only
 known health effect  associated with  exposure  to  elevated
 levels of  radon is  lung cancer.   EPA  estimates that about
 5,000 to 20,000 lung cancer deaths a year in  the US,  out of
 an estimated total of;about 139,000, may  be attributed to
 radon.                '

 35.  Not knowing the specific soil and  bedrock formation in
 Hong Kong,- I have no jidea  of how relevant  the problem of
 radon is  in Hong  Kong.   As  radon is found  at  very low
 levels--and  thus  people   living  in  basements   are
 particularly  vulnerable—it  may  not  affect  the   great
majority  of the  Hong Kong  population who  are living  in
 high-rise buildings.  .Radon can be detected by the  use of
measurement instruments  called radon detectors,_ which are
 now widely  available in  the  US.   The Air  Pollution Control
 Division of the Environmental Protection Department in Hong
 Kong should consider initiating some tests in the  territory
 using the available technology.

 36.  Other sources of ;indoor  air  pollution include tobacco
 smoke, pesticide,  asbestos, and lead-based paint.  As each
home  or office  differs in the  extent  of  contamination,
education  and  advisory action   are  more desirable  than

                      :       13

regulatory  action  (this is the approach  adopted  by the US
EPA   regarding   radon)!,   except   that  efforts  to  remove
asbestos  from buildings  and to  ban smoking in indoor areas
should continue to be stepped up.

Stratospheric Ozone Depletion

37.   Depletion of ozone in the stratosphere (the portion of
the  atmosphere  that is  ten  to  25 miles  above  the earth's
surface)  is the subject of an international convention, the
"Vienna Convention  For  The Protection Of  The Ozone Layer",
and   a   regulatory  treaty,  the  "Montreal   Protocol  On
Substances  That   Deplete  The  Ozone  Layer".     The
stratospheric  ozone  layer  serves  as  a  shield  against
ultraviolet rays from the sun which can damage human health
and   the  environment.;     Depletion  of  the  ozone  layer
increases the amount of  harmful  ultraviolet light reaching
the  earth,   which  will  increase  the incidence  of  skin
cancer.     Increased'  scientific  evidence   shows  that
depletion is  caused by  large scale releases of a  host of
man-made  compounds, known as chlorofluorocarbons(CFCs)  into
the  atmosphere.    CFCs  are  non-toxic,   nonflammable,  and
inert  chemicals   widely  used   in  refrigeration,   air
conditioning, packaging  (such as  foam containers  used in
fast  food  restaurants),   and   as  solvents   and  aerosol
38.  Hong Kong  is  a  member of  the Vienna Convention via
inclusion in  the United  Kingdom's formal  ratification to
the  Convention.    According to  the  latest report  in the
International  Environmental Reporter,  the United  Kingdom
and  all  other European Community  countries have  committed
themselves  to  signing; and ratifying  the  Montreal  Protocol
which calls  for a  freeze  and subsequent  reduction  in the
use  and   production of  CFCs—reductions  to 80 percent of
1986  levels  in  mid-1993 and  50  percent  by mid-1998.   The
Protocol  has  so  far been ratified  by 16  nations  including
the  US, Canada, Japan,! and  Norway.   It is expected to come
into  force  on  1  January  1989.     Following  the  United
Kingdom's ratification of  the Montreal Protocol,  Hong Kong
should consider  becoming a party  to the  Protocol  under a
similar mechanism as  in the case  of  the  Vienna Convention
in an effort  to help save the ozone  layer.   (Although the
People's  Republic of China is currently not a member of the
Convention  and  the  Protocol, sources  in  EPA told  me  that
there are good  prospects for China  to participate because
the  Protocol  contains i specific  provisions  which  cater for
developing  nations—they  are allowed to increase  their
consumption and production of CFCs for a ten-year period to
meet  growing domestic  needs  before  being brought  under
control.     Furthermore,  there  are  already very  positive
progress  in  the  development of  CFC  substitutes.   Du Pont,

                      >       14                    '   .
the  world's -largest  CFC manufacturer,  has  announced  its
plan .to market  CFC substitutes  as  early  as 1993  and  to
phase out all CFCs before the end of this century.)

Global Warming and Energy Efficiency
39.  In the  US,  the so-called  "greenhouse  effect"  has,  in
the  last  six months, .been  described by scientists  as  the
greatest global  problem to be  faced by  humankind.   It  has
been described  by environmental  leaders as  a  problem  the
consequences of  which! would equal  that  of a nuclear  war.
The growing  concern  is the result of  increased scientific
consensus on the warming of the atmosphere by emissions of
gases   through   fossil  fuel   burning  and   other  human
activities.  In June 1988, Dr James Hansen, director of  the
National Aeronautics  and Space Administration's  Institute
of Space Studies toldr a US Senate Committee  that there is
sufficient  evidence  -to  conclude   that  the  "greenhouse
effect" is  already warming the earth.   Scientists  tell us
that the  consequences  of  global  warming   will  definitely
include a  significant'sea-level rise as oceans  expand  and
polar ice melts, leading to extensive flooding in low-lying
coastal areas.         ;

40.  As carbon  dioxide emissions from-fossil fuel  burning
is  responsible   for'  50  percent   of   global   warming,
environmentalists,  scientists,  and  politicians  in  the  US
are  re-opening   a  debate  on  energy   efficiency   and
alternative energy  sources.   An energy  policy  is expected
to be  one  of the most  controversial subjects for the  Bush
Administration.        I

41.  In Hong Kong., energy supply in the next few decades is
assured by  the   mammoth  coal-fired  power plants  in Castle
Peak and  the nuclear 'plant in  Daya  Bay.   The  question is
whether we could reduce our dependence on  fossil  fuels  and
nuclear  power   which;  have  proven   environmental   risks.
Energy efficiency has ;to  be recognised as  an  integral  part
of any strategy  to deal  with  urban  air   pollution,  acid
rain,  and  global ' warming.   In  this respect,  the US fares
poorly: the  US  spends' about US$200  billion more  each  year
than it would have  to I at Japanese energy efficient levels.
Energy, efficiency  should  be promoted and practised in  our
everyday life.   I remember a publicity  campaign  on energy
saving conducted in Hong  Kong during the world oil crisis;
but  concerted . efforts  towards  less wasteful  use   of  our
resources and an environmentally attractive and sustainable
economy should not wait until another major crisis emerges.
It is  time  to  consider mounting  a  publicity  campaign  to
promote more efficient' use of energy.

42.  In  the  past few months, whenever people asked me what
was  the  major  environmental  problem  in  Hong  Kong,  I
answered without hesitation  that it is the pollution of our
water.   Hong Kong's poor water quality is reflected in her
filthy  harbour,  polluted beaches,  and  the  frequency  of
incidents of red tide and seafood contamination.

43.  Hong  Kong  has  the  benefit  of  being surrounded  by
waters  which  have  in  the  past  satisfied our  economic,
social,  and  recreational needs.  Like  all people who live
near  the  ocean,  we have  historically  used   our  coastal
waters  as  a  cheap  and  convenient  dump  site.    We  are
convinced  that given Fthe huge  absorbing power  and  self-
correcting mechanism of the  ocean, it would have no problem
in  assimilating   the - wastes  of  human  civilization  and
rendering  them harmless.    But  the  growth  in population,
industrialisation,  and urbanisation has created millions of
gallons of. sewage  and industrial discharges into our waters
that the  threshold of nature  is  eventually exceeded.   The
results are the severe! water pollution problems that we are
facing today.         i

44.  But all is  not lost  yet!   During my stay in the US, I
saw  the  quality  of the  Potomac  River,  which  was  once
unswimmable,  in   a  satisfactory  state  as  a  result  of
improved  sewage  treatment in  the Washington,  DC,  area;  I
read about improvements in the water quality in many of the
streams and  rivers in'. the US as a result of regulation of
industrial discharges;,  and  I was told  how Lake Erie,  once
proclaimed dead  in  the 1960s, was  brought back  to  life.
Nearer  home  ,there is  the  restoration  of the  Singapore
River as a result  of ah improved sewerage system undertaken
by the Singapore Government  in the 1970s and early 1980s.

Water Quality Management in the US

45.  EPA's water quality  management  programme  is organised
around  three main  themes:   (a)  reducing  the  pollution  of
free-flowing surface waters  and protecting their uses; (b)
preventing  the  degradation  and  destruction   of  critical
aquatic  habitats,   including  wetlands,  nearshore  coastal
waters, lakes, and oceans; and (c)  maintaining the quality
of drinking  water.   Congress  has  provided EPA  and  other
federal  and  state  agencies  with  primary  statutes  and
resources to deal with.these problems.

Protection of Surface Water:  the Clean Water Act 1972

46.  Although  the  first  piece  of water  pollution control
legislation was  passed  by the  US Congress  in  1948,  water

                       i      16

quality  management prior  to  1972  was  almost wholly  the
responsibility of  the  states.   Under  the Water Quality Act
of 1965, states are required to develop state water quality
standards  specifying .  required  levels  of cleanliness  for
water bodies.   If water quality  standards  in a particular
water  body  were  being violated,  individual  dischargers
identified  could  be   required  to  reduce their  pollutant
discharges.            j

47.  Unfortunately, reliance on  the  states'  ability,  at
that £ime, did not work.  By 1970, many waterways in the US
were severely polluted] fish kills were common, accelerated
eutrophication was recognized  as  a problem,  and  numerous
water bodies were unusable for recreation.   In an extreme
case, the  water  in Ohio's  Cuyahoga River was  so  polluted
with  chemicals  that   it  actually  caught  fire.    It  was
becoming  clear  that   states,  working  for  the  most  part
individually,  did noti have the  institutional muscle  and
financial  resources  to handle water pollution  problems.
Public concern grew and Congress  responded by enacting the
Clean Water Act in 1972.
48.  The federal  solution  contained in the Clean Water Act
consisted  of  a  two-pronged  approach:  uniform  national
discharge  standards for all point  source dischargers;  and
money from the  federal treasury for the construction  of
wastewater treatment facilities.
The National Pollutant|Discharge Elimination System

49.  Under,  the   Clean  Water  Act,   all  industrial   and
municipal  facilities   [that  discharge wastewater  directly
into the country's rivers,  streams, and other water bodies
must  have a  permit issued under  the  National  Pollutant
Discharge  Elimination  System  (NPDES).     EPA  develops
uniform, nationally consistent  effluent limitations (these
are   pollutant-specific  and  industry-specific  discharge
limits)   for  industrial categories  and sewage  treatment
plants.   These limitations  are  based  on a consideration of
the   best  available  i technology  that  is  economically
achievable.  The  permitting authority,  which can be EPA or
a  state  agency,   then  'determines  NPDES  permit limitations
using these  national  standards.  These  permits  have to be
renewed  at least  once every  five years and  the  renewal
exercise  provides  an  opportunity   for  the  review  of
discharge  limitations  based  on  the  latest  available
information and technology.

50.  The   NPDES   permits   also  contain  monitoring   and
reporting  requirements  on  the  part of  the  discharger.
These are specific  instructions  on  how  sampling of  the
effluent  should   be  done  to  check  whether  the  effluent

limitations  have been met  and  the type of  the monitoring
required.  The monitoring results are regularly reported to
EPA  and  state   authorities.    When  a  permittee fails  to
comply  with  effluent  limitations   or   monitoring  and
reporting  requirements,  EPA or  the   state  may  take
enforcement  action.  .   There   are   approximately  48,400
industrial and  15,300 ;municipal facilities  that currently
have NPDES permits.    j
51.  Apart from  technology-based standards, the Clean Water
Act  also  requires  individual  states  to  develop  water
quality  standards for' every  stream  within  their borders.
These standards  include a designated use such as fishing or
swimming  and  prescribe criteria to protect  that use.   The
criteria  are   pollutant  specific  and   represent  the
permissible  levels  of  .substances in  the waters  that would
enable the use to be achieved.  Water quality standards are
the  basis for all water management decisions.   Hence  an
industrial plant discharging  pollutants into  a particular
stream may be subject  to more stringent limitations in its
NPDES permit than those promulgated on a national basis,  if
such  are  required  to  meet  the  state's  specific  water
quality  standards.   Water  quality standards  are reviewed
every three years and are revised as  needed.
52.  Although the 1972  Clean  Water  Act  contains  special
provisions for addressing the problem  of  toxic discharges,
little  progress   has  been  made  in   this   regard.    EPA's
failure  to develop an |effective toxics strategy under the
Clean Water Act  led  thje  Natural Resources  Defense Council,
a non-governmental environmental group, to sue the Agency.
The  result was   a  series  of amendments to the Act  in 1977
which  required   EPA  ,to develop  and  enforce  stringent
industry-by-industry toxic  effluent  limits  established  on
the  basis of the  best  available  technology.    But  the
deadline  for  the development  of these  effluent limitations
has been missed,  then extended,  and missed by EPA.

Construction Grants Programme

53.  The  second  Clean   Water   Act   strategy  focused  on
financial assistance to municipalities.  The Act authorises
EPA to provide funds to  states  to  support  the construction
of municipal  sewage treatment  plants.   An  US$18  billion
three-year  grant  programme  was  initially  authorised  by
Congress to provide money for almost  any type of wastewater
treatment  projects  {up  to  75  percent.)    In  total,  the
federal  government has  granted to  states  and  localities
approximately US$48  billion  under the Clean Water  Act  in
assisting the construction  of or improvement to over 4,600
sewage treatment plants  across  the country.   An additional
50 million people in the US  have been served by secondary


wastewater  treatment  (secondary  treatment  to  remove  85
percent  of  key  constituents  such  as  oxygen  demanding
materials  and suspended  solids  is  the minimum  treatment
required of  all  sewage treatment  plants nationwide  in the
US)   since . 1972   and  water   quality  improvements  are
noticeable in many lakes, streams, and rivers.
Nonpoint Source Pollution

54.  No  matter how  tightly or  successfully point  source
dischargers  are.  controlled,  water  pollution  remains  a
problem because of the I increased runoff and discharges from
nonpoint sources.   Rain  carries  off oil,  grease,  and other
contaminants  from city  streets  into  streams  and  coastal
waters.    Likewise,  fertilisers,   pesticides,   and  other
chemicals  from farm  fields  are drained  into  rivers  and
bays by  way of the  stiormwater drainage system.   Nonpoint
sources  of  pollution pose  a greater problem because they
are so difficult  to identify and control.   The pollutants
come  from  many  different  sources,  such as  construction,
agriculture, landfills,  etc.

55.  In  the US,  the jmost widespread  source  of  nonpoint
source  pollution  is• \agricultural  activities.    A  1985
assessment found that agricultural activity was  the primary
cause for  106,000 or 64 percent of the river miles  in the
US  suffered  from  nonpoint   source  pollution.     This
agricultural  component   of  nonpoint  source  pollution  is
currently  being  addressed  in  most   of   the   states  by
voluntary programmes  which provide education and  training
to  farmers.    These ^programmes have  not  been  entirely
successful especially ;in cases  where  controlling  nonpoint
source pollution  is not in the economic  interest  of  the
farmer.  (By contrast,;Hong Kong has made a more aggressive
attempt  to  address the  agriculture waste  problem  through
implementation of the Livestock  Waste  Control Scheme,  The
relatively lenient  non-regulatory attitude  adopted towards
the farming community in the US is not surprising given the
importance  attached to  her  agriculture  business.   As  a
matter of  fact,  until•very recently, rapid  growth  in food
production  in  the US jhas  been  achieved  very  much  at  the
expense of the environment.)
The Water Quality Act 1987
56.  To  address the  remaining  water pollution  problems,
Congress enacted the Water Quality Act in 1987, overriding
a  presidential  veto !(which  called  the  Act  a  "budget
buster".)  The Water Quality Act goes beyond the 1972 Act's
prime concern with the!cleanliness of wastewater discharges

                       :      19
and  places  an emphasis on the  overall  water  quality.
key  provisions include:
 (a)  Controlling  nonpoint  source  pollution  by  requiring
     each  state to assess  the problem of  nonpoint source
     pollution  within  itheir boundaries and to  establish a
     management  programme  with  assistance  from a  US$400
     million federal grant  fund;
 (b)  Controlling  industrial  and  municipal   stormwater
     discharges by  requiring large dischargers—industrial
     plants and municipal sources serving more than 500,000
     people—to obtain;a permit within specified deadlines.
     EPA is required to develop regulations on the issue of
     such permits within two years;

 (c)  Identifying and controlling  "toxic hot spots"  under a
     joint EPA-state national  surface  water toxics  control
     programme.    Thej  Act  requires   states,   under  EPA
     oversight, to  identify  those  waterways  within  their
     borders where, toxic  discharges  continue  to contribute
     to  water  quality  nonattainment  and  to   develop  a
     strategy  to  ensure  compliance  with  water  quality
     standards.   One  measure  to control  toxic pollutants
     is  to specify  more stringent  NPDES  limitations  for
     industrial dischargers  and  to require more  intensive
     pretreatment  (at' present,   industries  using  public
     sewage  systems   are   already  required  to  meet
     pretreatment  standards  designed   to  prevent  the
     discharge  of  pollutants,  particularly  toxics,  that
     will adversely affect or simply pass  through secondary
     treatment facilities);  and
 (d)  Managing  sewage  'sludge generated  by  the  country's
     15,000 sewage treatment plants by developing limits on
     toxic  pollutants  , present  in  sewage  sludge  and  its
     appropriate disposal.

57.  The  Water Quality  Act also  introduces  significant
changes to the  provision of financial assistance to  state
and  local  governments  for  the  construction   of   sewage
treatment  facilities.  >  Under  the Act,  the Construction
Grants  Programme  will! be  replaced  by a State  Revolving
Fund  Programme,    Under  this  new  programme,   the  federal
government will award initial grant money  to "the states  for
use as  capital in  instituting a  water pollution  control
revolving  loan  fund.    Each state will  use its  revolving
fund to make loans  for  local  wastewater treatment  works
construction.  •  The  repayments  for  principal and  interest
from these loans will be used to replenish the fund.

Protection  of  Oceans,
Protection, Research,
 Wetlands, and Estuaries:  the Marine
and Sanctuaries Act
58.  Stories  on  the   television   networks   and  in  the
newspapers  last  summer  on  medical waste  washed  ashore
popular  beaches  in the  states  of New York and New Jersey
have  brought the  question  of  pollution  in  the  ocean to
public attention.  In the US, almost half of the population
live  along  the  coasts  and, historically, the  oceans have
been  treated  as  huge   sinks.    Ocean  dumping of. dredge
material, sewage sludge, and industrial wastes  is a major
source of ocean  pollution.   These wastes  are often highly
contaminated  with heavy metals  and toxic chemicals like
PCBs.     When   they  .are   dumped   into  the , ocean,  the
contaminants  can  be  taken  up by   fish  and  other  marine
organisms which  in  turn  pose  serious   hazards  to  human
health through consumption  of  contaminated seafood.   Human
activities  have  also(   led  to  the  substantial  loss  of
wetlands  which  play  an  important   role  in  improving  and
maintaining water  quality  in adjacent water  bodies  and in
sustaining many  forms of fish and wildlife.

59,  In  response  to   national  concern  regarding  the
environmental threat of  ocean dumping, Congress enacted the
Marine Protection,  Research, and Sanctuaries Act  in 1972,
commonly known as  the'Ocean Dumping Act.   Under this Act,
EPA  designates  recommended  sites  and  times  for  ocean
dumping and actual dumping at these  sites require a permit.
EPA  and  the  US  Corps'  of  Engineers share the permitting
authority, with the Corps responsible for the permitting of
dredged materials  and ' EPA responsible for all  other types
of materials.   The US; Coast Guards  monitor  the activities
and   EPA  is  responsible   for  assessing  penalties  for
violations.            ;

60.  Ocean dumping of 'industrial  waste has decreased since
1973 but  the ocean has  continued to be a cheap dump site
for  the  increased amount  of sewage sludge generated from
the  many, newly  constructed  sewage   treatment plants.   The
Ocean'Dumping Act  was ! subsequently  amended with an express
aim  to end  all ocean clumping practices  in 1981.   This law
was successfully challenged by the City of New York and six
cities in  New Jersey  which,  up  to this  date, are  still
dumping their sewage  sludge at a  designated site 106 miles
offshore.  Incidents of medical waste washed ashore beaches
in the  two  states have created  mounting pressure  for an
end  to   these practices.    As a  result,  New  Jersey  has
committed itself to ending  sludge dumping by  1991.  In the
face  of  continued  resistance  by the  City  of New  York,
Congress recently  enacted  the Ocean Dumping  Ban Act which
prohibits all sewage sludge and industrial dumping into the
ocean after December 1991.

 61.  As  a measure  to ^protect the  country's  wetlands, the
 Clean  Water  Act  contains  provisions  to  regulate  the
 discharge  of dredged or fill  materials  into  waters of the
 US  as  a  measure to  protect  the country's wetlands.   The
 Water Quality Act of  1987 introduces procedures to. plan for
 and manage water quality in estuaries.  EPA has established
 a  National  Estuary  Programme  under which  estuaries  of.
 national  significance that  are threatened by pollution are
 identified  for  special  protection.    Other  federal
 programmes  such  as  the  National  Wildlife  Refuge  System
 administered by the US Fish and Wildlife Service also help
 prevent loss of  America's wetlands.

 Protection of Drinking|Water: the Safe Drinking Water Act

 62.  Drinking  water  is provided to 200  million Americans
 (about  80  percent  of  the  total   population)  by  58,000
 community  water  supply   systems   and  to  nonresidential
 locations  such  as  campgrounds,  schools, and  factories  by
 160,000 small-scale suppliers..   The rest of the population
 are served  by private, wells.   The  drinking water supplied
 to about  half  of all Americans is  drawn from ground water,
 which  comprises about; 90  percent  of  the  country's  fresh
 water. .Untreated water drawn from ground water and surface
 waters, such as lakes and  rivers,  can contain contaminants
 that pose acute  and chronic threats to human health.

 63.  SPA's  drinking  water  programme  is  focused  on  two
 areas: minimizing  the- contamination  of  ground water and
 surface waters needed for human consumption, and monitoring
 a*hd treating  drinking •water.   EPA's  efforts  in protecting
 surface water  is addressed  in a previous section under the
 Clean Water Act.
    ' •      '            i
 64.  Water  supply  regulation  first began  in  1914,  under
 authority  of   the  Public   Health  Services   Act  which
 established  drinking  iwater  standards  to  protect  public
 health.  The standardstsetting authority was transferred to
 the EPA  when it was  created.   A survey  of  drinking water
 systems in several  states in 1970 revealed that half of the
 systems did not meet bacterial monitoring standards.  These
 findings  led .to concern over  the  need  for more stringent
 federal regulation of the nation's drinking water.

 65.  The  Safe  Drinking Water Act,  passed in 1974,  is the
 basis for comprehensive regulation  of  drinking  water.   The
Act directs  the Administrator of EPA to prescribe national
drinking water  standards to protect public health, permits
 states  to  enforce  the  requirements,  and  provides  for
protection of  underground  sources  of drinking  water.   The
Act  has   undergone   certain  fine  tuning and  improvements

                      ;       22
since its enactment, and was last amended in 1986.  The new
amendments  require  EPA to  set binding numerical standards
for  levels  of more than 80 contaminants  in drinking water
based  on the  degree  to which  they  can be  removed  by the
best available technology.  The most recent standards being
promulgated are  in  respect  of  lead in drinking water.  The
Act   also  substantially   broaden   the  federal  role  in
protecting  ground  water  from  contamination.    While
regulation  of  groundj  water  remains  the   domain  of  the
states,  EPA  is  authorised  to give  grants to  assist the
states'  programmes.  '  Protection  of  ground  water  from
contamination  is  also! a major goal  of other  EPA statutes
and programmes such as< Superfund, regulation of underground
storage  tanks,  and requirements  of  disposal  of hazardous
waste  under  the Resource  Conservation  and  Recovery Act
which are discussed in|later sections of this paper.
Water Quality Management in Hong Kong
66.  Comparatively  speaking, I am more familiar with water
pollution problems  and regulation  in Hong  Kong than with
other environmental programmes.  This is due to my previous
Sai  Kung District Office experience  which  has  given  me  a
taste  of  a  bit  of  everything  in  the  area  of   water
pollution: over-stressed Clearwater  Bay beaches during the
summer season;  a Ho Chung  River that  changes  colour from
time  to  time  (depending  on the  discharges from a  nearby
dyeing factory);  a highly  polluted  Chung  Mei  Tuk  typhoon
shelter  inhabited by  boat  people; leaking  septic tanks  in
the  rural villages; and urban  developments  in  Junk  Bay and
the Sai Kung New Town with their sewage treatment needs.
67.  While  progress has been  made in  the  last  few years
regarding effective management of our rivers,  streams, and
coastal waters, a lot more has to be devoted to restore our
waters to an  acceptable level  which  is vital to the  health
and welfare of  the  community.   I am afraid we have  in the
past, and probably  also currently, relied  too much  on the
so-called assimilating;  absorbing, and diluting capacity of
the  sea  to handle  our waste  problems.   I think we have
arrived at a  stage  that we  cannot afford  not to remedy the
situation- immediately',  even   though   such  remedies  may
require very substantial investments.
The Water Pollution Control Ordinance
68.  As  in   the  case  of   the   air  quality  management
programme   under  the1   Air   Pollution  Control  Ordinance
discussed  earlier,  the  Water Pollution Control  Ordinance
empowers  the  Government  to  tackle  water  pollution  by

declaring  Water Control Zones and setting respective Water
Quality  Objectives  for, these zones.  So far,  only  the Tolo
Harbour  and Channel has  been declared as a  Water Control
Zone.  {I am not aware ;of the latest position regarding the
proposal to declare  the southern shore  of the  Hong Kong
Island  as  the  second  Water Control  Zone.)   The  effect of
the  ordinance  is  to  prohibit  the discharge  of  effluents
into  a  Water Control  ,Zone  by industrial  plants  that fall
within   specified   industrial  categories  and  by  sewage
treatment  works unless  they are  granted a permit  by the
licensing  authority.   ,The  permit  will  usually specify the
volume  and rate of the discharge and the quality  of the
effluent  taking  into; consideration  the  declared  Water
Quality  Objectives  of  the  zone,  and  the  quality  and
quantity of  other wastes  discharged  into  the  receiving
waters.  However,  discharges that are already in existence
prior  to  the  coming  Into  effect of  the legislation are
automatically  exempted  from  control  provided  that  they
meet the necessary  land and lease conditions.   An exempted
discharge may be increased  by up to 30 percent without loss
of the exemption.   If  it is increased beyond this limit, or
a  significant  component is added  to it,  a licence will be
required.              f

69.  Before  going  i-nto  detail  about  the  permitting
programme,  I would like,  first  of  all,  to  reiterate  my
concerns  over  a   sectoral  approach  to  environmental
protection  work as  argued  in paragraph 23 above.   I think
we have  witnessed   sufficient evidence  of deterioration in
our water  quality  to  initiate territory-wide  controls.   A
first task faced by the  Hong Kong Government is  to hold,
and  hot  lose,  ground.    We cannot  afford  to  allow  the
quality  of  our  waters,to be further  deteriorated which, in
some cases, may lead to irreversible damages.

A  Water-Quality-Based  Approach  to   Hong   Kong's  Water
Pollution Problem      |
70.  The   US   experience   has  an   impact   on   my
conceptualisation of the  problem and hence has  given rise
to  some  of  my reservations on  the  water-quality-based
approach  or strategy  'currently adopted  in managing  Hong
Kong's  water pollution problem.   Generally speaking,  a
water-quality-based approach  begins with  an  examination of
the  receiving  waters  and  works  backward from  there  to-
impose controls on  polluters  where necessary.   This is the
approach adopted by the US prior to the  enactment  of the
Clean  Water  Act   in, 1972  and  which  has   been  proved
inadequate  to  safeguard the country's water quality.   The
Clean Water Act brought in a new technology-based approach
which  set  discharge f limits  on  the  basis  of  available
technology  and  applied them to all dischargers,  regardless


of  the quality  of  the  receiving  waters.    Water-quality-
based  objectives were re-instituted  in the Water  Quality
Act 1987,  but  as EPA's Deputy Assistant Administrator  for
Water  argued,  "the water-quality-based  approach  could  only
be  tried  again  now  that  a  huge base  programme has  been

71.  In my view, a water-quality-based approach,  especially
one which  is  targeted towards special  types of  industries
or  dischargers and specially designated  water  bodies,  is
inadequate to  deal with  the extent of  the  water pollution
problem in Hong Kong.   This is because:

(a)  water quality in Hong Kong has rapidly deteriorated in
     the last  few years  and  the sources  of pollution  are
     extremely  diverse.    It  would  be difficult  if  not
     impossible  for the  regulatory  authority to  track  down
     all the culprits and place them under  control.   Unless
     a territory-wide  basic  control structure is in  place
     to subject  dischargers  to at  least a minimum set  of
     limitations,  the task  of  identifying  and  reducing
     these  pollution  sources would  take  many  years  to

(b)  in  practice,  it  is  difficult  for   the  regulatory
     authority  to put  in practice a  water-quality-based
     approach—to  decide   how  much  pollutants  each
     discharger discharging into a Water Control  Zone  could
     release requires  a  high level of  technical expertise
     and scientific data. .  The licence procedure, as it  now
     stands, seems cumbersome, and in practice, may  involve
     the licensing authority entering into  endless  debates
     with  the  discharger over the  pollutant  level of  its
     discharge  and  its  effects  on  the receiving  waters.
     What  if  a  discharger  is unhappy  about  the effluent
     limitations in his licence?   What if a discharger  said
     that   "let  us   prove  to  you  that  our   effluents
     discharged after all.are not that bad"; and

(c)  the   exemption  provisions  under  the  present
     legislation  further  weaken the  effectiveness  of  a
     water-quality-based  approach.  The regulations now in
     practice  place   no   time  limit  on   how  long  those
     exempted  facilities are  going to enjoy the privilege
     to pollute  our  waters which  are already under great
     stress.    The   30  percent  threshold described   in
     paragraph 68 above  is extremely  complex and resource-
     intensive to operate  because  it places the  burden  on
     the regulatory authority to collect and interpret  the
     data rather than  requiring  exemptees  to monitor  their
     discharges  and   report   regulatory to the relevant
     authority.  While I can appreciate the rationale  for


     reducing  to   a   minimum  the   impact  of  any  new
     regulations  on  existing  industries,   I  think  the
     leniency  should  be  tied  to  some  targeted  goals  or
     objectives.     In  the  US,  many  control  programmes
     contain  provisions  requiring  existing  industries  or
     plants  to comply  after  a certain date,  or exempting
     them  from  the  usually  more  stringent  new  source
     standards  but   regulating   them  under  an  overall
     pollutant control programme.

72.  The  effectiveness  of  the  water  pollution  control
legislation will  no doubt be  reviewed in  the light of its
operational difficulties  and  improvements  to water quality
within  the water  control zone.  The  review should perhaps
give consideration to applying a strategy that will combine
the present water-quality-based approach with a technology-
based approach imposing certain limitations  on  the levels
of pollutants  (either  in  terms  of  concentration,  e.g.
x  mg/1  or absolute  loadings,  e.g. x  Ib/day) that  can  be
discharged  from  a  specific  category of   industry  or  a
municipal   treatment  plant.     As  regards   existing
dischargers,  the  respective legislation should  be amended
to empower the regulatory authority to  impose limitations
if these are considered necessary  to  comply with the Water
Quality Objectives of the receiving waters.

Wastewater from Industrial Sources

73.  Another reason  for establishing a basic structure  of
controls for industries  and other major dischargers  is  to
regulate the amount of toxic pollutants in their effluents.
As we   know,  toxic  chemicals  can  have  severe,  sometimes
irreversible,  impacts  on  human   health  and  the  aquatic
environment.    The  control of  toxics is complicated by the
fact that there are  over thousands of  commercial chemicals
currently in  use in  the factories.   In Hong Kong,  large
scale industrial developments  such as those  at  Tai Po and
Yuen  Long  Industrial   Estates  are   required  to  obtain
consents for  wastewater discharges which  may require on-
site treatment in  order  to minimise  their impact  on the
sewage treatment facilities or the quality of the receiving
waters.    However,  the  majority of the  factories  in  Hong
Kong  are either  discharging  their wastewaters   into  the
public  foul  sewers  connected to  a Government  wastewater
treatment plant or indiscriminately releasing them into the
stormwater system, in  which  case the  effluents will end up
in the sea without any treatment.

74.  The situation  of  waste effectively by-passing proper
treatment  is  believed  to  be  a  main   cause  for  water
pollution in Hong Kong.   But  even  with treatment, there is
no  guarantee  of  complete  removal  of   toxicity  in  the


wastewater.   Public  wastewater treatment plants,  both in
the  US and in Hong Kong, were not designed for toxic waste
coming from  some  industries.   Because of this, problems can
occur   if  some   especially  toxic  wastes,  say  from  our
plastics  manufacturer,  or  from a plant  making transistor
radios,  become mixed  up with the relatively  less harmful
wastewater  entering the public  treatment plant.   Without
the   necessary   toxic-removal  capability,   highly  toxic
substances  can remain in the  effluent discharged  from  a
treatment  plant  or  in  the  remaining  sludge.    To prevent
this,  the  US and many industrialised nations require their
industrial   plants  to  separate  their  wastewater  and  to
apply  on-site  treatment to remove  the  toxic  substances
before discharging into  the  public sewers.

75.  Toxic wastes are ubiquitous: they can  be disposed of
through  the  media of  land,   sea, or air.   Given the severe
harm that  they  can do and the general absence of stringent
control over their use and disposal in Hong Kong; the whole
question on  the use and  disposal of toxic substances should
be  given  priority attention.    This  subject is  further
discussed  in later  sections on hazardous waste  treatment
and toxic substances.

Wastewater from Municipal Sources

76.  The  problem  of  municipal  wastewater  can  only  be
resolved  by adequate  sewage  treatment  facilities.   Such
facilities   are   expensive—since  1972,   the   US  federal
government  has  already  expended US$48  billion  under  the
Construction Grants  Programme; states and localities  have
contributed  another US$17 billion; and  Congress authorised
the  use  of  an  additional  US$18 billion nationwide  for
assistance  in  the  construction of  wastewater  treatment
plants under the  1987 Water Quality Act—but  the price of
not   having  them  in  time  will  be   far  greater.
Unfortunately,  while  the  economic  costs  are  startling
clear, the benefits of clean water  are  usually intangible,
thus  making  a  reasonable cost-benefit  analysis on  which
decisions are to be based extremely difficult.

77.  Although the  majority  of the population  in  Hong  Kong
are  served" by public  sector sewage  treatment facilities,
the degree of treatment  applied  varies  and,  in most cases,
it is  doubtful  whether the  effluent water from our sewage
treatment facilities are sufficiently clean  at the time it
enters  our  sea.   The entire  Hong Kong  Island  and  urban
Kowloon are only served by preliminary or primary treatment
and  their  effluents  are disposed  of  through  submarine
outfalls  into the  harbour.    On  the contrary,  secondary
treatment is a requirement of all public treatment works in
the US.   In  other industrialised countries,  even secondary


treatment   is   now  being   regarded   as  insufficient.
Additional  efforts  or  advanced  treatment,   such  as
filtration  and  disinfection,  are made to remove pollutants
in  the  wastewater before they can be released and returned
to  nature.

78,  As pointed out previously, there is a limit on how far
we  can rely on  the  safe receptive  capacity of  the  sea,
which  is  also expected  to  meet the  recreational  needs  of
over six  million  people.   Raw sewage washed ashore some of
our popular  and  once  beautiful beaches  is  not only  an
eyesore;  it directly  affects the  health  of  swimmers  and
will eventually make our waters  unswimmable.   In  the  US,
people  are  paying all types  of user  fees  for clean water,
such as sewer bills  or  connection  charges.   If  people  in
Hong Kong are  made aware of the consequences,  I  believe
that they would be  willing  to pay a price  for clean water.
Secondary  treatment  should  be  made an  objective  in  our
municipal  wastewater  treatment programme.    There is  no
alternative  to building more secondary treatment facilities
and upgrading  existing plants  if this  objective is to  be

79.  Modern  wastewater   treatment   plants   do  not  exist
everywhere.   There are  some  rural  areas in  the  territory
which are  not going  to  be  served by public  sewers  in  the
foreseeable  future.   Although  the  amount of  wastewater
generated by each of these settlements is relatively small,
they together could cause severe damages to our streams and
watercourses.   We have already tackled  the  largest source
of  the  problem  by the Livestock Waste Control Scheme which
will effectively restricts the dumping of animal waste into
the watercourses.  The remaining problems of illegal sewage
discharges from households and overflow septic tanks should
be  addressed and  should  preferably  take the form of advice
and assistance rather than regulation.

80.  Huge  expenditures  for  wastewater treatment  plants,
large  and  small,  are  of  little  value unless  they  are
properly  maintained and  operated.    A  large part  of  Hong
Kong's water pollution problem is caused by malfunctioning
privately owned treatment plants.  Likewise, the stormwater
system  should be  protected  from  illegal   connections  and
discharges   to  serve  its   original  purpose.     The   US
experience  has  indicated that controlling pollution  from
point sources alone is inadequate to restore water quality.
Pollution from  nonpoint  sources can  create the  same level
of  degradation  if  left uncontrolled.    Efforts  against
water  pollution  is  a   tough,   on-going   task  requiring
cooperation  in  all  fronts.    Responsible  departments
including  the  Environmental  Protection  Department,   the
Buildings  and   Lands   Department,  the   Electrical   and


 Mechanical  Department,  the Marine  Department,  the Urban
 Services  and the Regional Services Departments should step
 up their  enforcement and monitoring  efforts  in serving as
 vanguards of  our waters.

 Sewage Sludge Management and Ocean Dumping

 81.  With more  wastewater plants in operation, disposal of
 sewage sludge has  emerged as a problem.  Sewage sludge can
 have  a number  of  beneficial  uses  if it  is sufficiently
 treated and  clear  of  harmful  contaminants.   Otherwise,
 sewage sludge is either buried in landfills or dumped into
 the ocean.   As  described earlier,  ocean dumping of sewage
 sludge was  a controversial  subject  in the US  in the last
 few  months.   Growing  concern has  eventually led  to  the
 enactment of  the Ocean Dumping Ban Act which prohibits all
 ocean  dumping by 1992.

 82.  At present, ocean dumping  is practiced  in  Hong Kong
 under  the Dumping  At Sea Act  1974  (Overseas Territories)
 Order   1975,  which  prohibits  dumping  at  sea  without  a
 licence.  There are currently three dumping grounds in use
 in Hong Kong waters, at south of Cheung  Chau,  east of the
 Ninepin Group of islands, and in Mirs Bay.   Ocean dumping
 of sludge is also under consideration  at a site east of the
 WagIan Island.

 83.  Given  my  limited  information  on the  sort  of wastes
 being  dumped into the  sea,  it is difficult  to assess  its
 implications  in the light of  the US  experience.   However,
 there  has been  a  growing consensus  in the US and in  the
 international environmental  community  that  ocean dumping,
 especially  in -coastal waters,  can  give rise to a series of
 hazards to  human health and  the marine  environment.   The
 present designated dumping grounds in  Hong Kong, especially
 the more  popular Cheung Chau  site is  close to areas where
 people  inhabit, and  hence  the implications  should not  be
 underestimated.    I  think, as  a  matter of principle, ocean
 dumping should  be  reduced rather than extended as a means
 of waste disposal, and any further proposals to make use of
 the sea as a cheap dump site should be reconsidered.

 84.  Unlike  the US,  provision of safe drinking  water  in
 Hong Kong is  solely, a government business,  except in those
 rural  communities which are  not  yet  served  by a government
 supply.   I  do  not intend  to  cover  the  issues associated
with drinking water  in this  paper  but efforts  to tackle
 pollution in our rivers,  streams,  and  other watercourses
will certainly  help  to  reduce  contamination of our surface
waters.   Materials that  I  have collected  on the  US safe
drinking  water   legislation  and programmes  could  provide
 useful   reference  if  the   environmental  protection


authorities  in Hong Kong would need  to  focus attention on
this subject at a later stage.

85.  "Everybody wants us to pick it up, and nobody wants us
to  put it  down."    This is  how the  US  EPA describes  an
average  American's  attitude  towards  solid  waste.    Solid
waste   includes   all  non-hazardous   solid,   liquid,   or
contained  gaseous  refuse   generated   by  industrial,
commercial,  and   residential   sources.     The  following
discussion  is focused  on  municipal solid  waste, most  of
which  is  generated  by  residential  and commercial sources,
or what everybody calls garbage.

The  Solid Waste  Crisis in  the US:  Shortage of Landfill

86.  The  US  is  currently generating a total of  about  160
million  tons  of solid  waste  each  year,  or an  average  of
about  130 pounds  per  person per  year.    This   amount  is
expected  to increase to about 193  million tons  by the year
2000.   The US  certainly lives  up  to  its reputation as  a
"throwaway  society".     Here,   supermarkets,   fast-food
restaurants,  and offices are  filled with large  amounts  of
disposable  products  and convenient   packaging  which  are
ended up  in  the trash  bins in  no  more than a  few  minutes
after consumption.   The piles of advertisement  supplements
in the Washington  Post  and the  junk mail  in the  letter  box
often  create  disposal  problems.     Having  worked  in  a
federal agency for  a few months, I  am  not surprised  at  all
that more than 40  percent of  the solid waste stream  in  the
US  consists   of  paper  and  paper  products  generated  from
offices,  homes  and  factories.   Papers  and circulars  are
duplicated quite  unnecessarily, again just  to   be  thrown
away at the end of the working day.

87.  While  annual  generation  of   waste   is   gradually
increasing, the capacity for  acceptable disposal in  the US
is  rapidly  decreasing.    At  present,  most  solid waste  is
still  disposed  of  in  landfills,  one   third  of   which  are
expected to be full in the next five years.   Yet  because of
the NIMBY (Not In  My Back Yard)  syndrome  and concerns over
potential health  hazards,  many  states are unable to  site
new  landfills.      This  lack   of   landfill  capacity   is
dramatised by the  incident   of  a   New York garbage  barge
wandering at  sea  for three  months in the spring of  1987
looking for a place to unload its "cargo".


Incineration as an Alternative to Landfilling

88.  Incineration  is  an  alternative to  landfilling:  it
reduces  waste volume  by  up to  90  percent  and does  not
require  any change in the current operation of  the waste
collection  system.  Lack of new landfill space coupled with
the  growing,  waste  volumes   has  made  incineration  an
attractive  option for state and local administrators.  Most
new  incinerators  in the US  are waste-to-energy facilities
that  convert the  heat  from burning  garbage  to steam  or
electricity.   Some are equipped with facilities  to remove
glass  and  metals   from  the  incoming waste  stream while
others  are mass burn  facilities where  unsegregated solid
waste is simply shovelled into the furnace.  During my stay
in the  US, I have  visited one- of  these resource recovery
facilities  (the  mass burn type)  serving 260,000  residents
in the  City of Alexandria and  the  Arlington County in the
state of Virginia.   It  is built  with the state-of-the-art
West German technology  and apparently has not  created any
environmental nuisance.  The energy it produces is  sold to
the local power company.

89.  Proposals   for  new  incinerators,   like   those  for
landfills,  often   meet  public  opposition—residents  in
Prince George's County in Maryland have recently voted down
a County proposal  to build a new  incinerator.   The public
is increasingly  concerned about  air pollution from these
plants and  the  toxic ash.   Such concerns  are to  a  certain
extent valid as garbage burned in these plants are unsorted
(they are  brought  in  by the conventional garbage  trucks,
dumped  onto a tipping  floor,  and  then  fed  by cranes  and
conveyors   into  a  furnace)   and  emissions   from  every
incinerator tested showed traces of toxic substances.
Some analysts  especially point out  the  potential problems
of  burning  materials   containing  chlorine   compounds.
(Plastics  and  bleached  paper  are the two major  sources.)
During   combustion,   these  substances  react  to  form
chemicals,   such  as  dioxins  and  furans,  which are  highly
toxic and have proven damaging  effects on human health.   A
recent  Energy  From Waste  study conducted by the National
Swedish  Environment Protection Board admitted that waste
incineration is  the largest  source of dioxin  and  mercury
emissions.    The study  also pointed  out that  the  current
amount of emissions  from incinerators are far  too high and
should  be   reduced  by a • combination  of  measures  such  as
waste reduction at  source  and "cleaning"  the waste  that is
being burned,  by using  various  incineration  technologies,
and by flue gas cleaning.


Solid Waste Management in the US

90.  Solid  waste management in  the US  is  regulated under
the  Resource  Conservation  and  Recovery  Act  passed  by
Congress  in   1976.    The  Act  gave  EPA  regulatory  and
assistance  responsibilities  in this area but planning and
implementation of an acceptable waste management scheme was
the  primary  responsibility  of  state and local governments.
In  1979,  EPA promulgated certain performance standards and
criteria  for   both  new  and   existing  waste  disposal
facilities  including  landfills.    But  incinerators  are
largely  unregulated except in  terms of  emission  controls
under the Clean Air Act.  The Agency  is currently working
on  regulations  concerning emissions  from new  waste-to-
energy  facilities,  which  are  expected  to  be  issued  in
November  1989.   The transport and  disposal of incinerator
ash  remains  an area where  there is no  regulation and has
been the  subject of severe criticism by environmentalists.

91.  The  management  of  solid  waste,   which used  to  be
primarily a local responsibility, now emerges as a national
problem   in  the  US.     In  September  1988,  EPA  issued  a
consultative document entitled TheSolid Waste Dilemma:  An
Agenda For Action which  seeks public comment on a series of
suggestions  to  deal  with  the  problem.    The  document
recommends  using   the  hierarchy   of   "integrated  waste
management" to  solve  solid  waste generation and management
problems  at  the  local, 'regional,  and national levels.   The
hierarchy favours  source  reduction  (including  reuse)  to
first decrease the volume and toxicity of waste.   Recycling
(including  composting)   is  the  preferred waste  management
option to further  reduce the volume of waste that  needs  to
be  disposed  of  and  to  slow  the depletion  of  natural
resources.  While  landfills and  incinerators will  continue
to be necessary to handle some wastes,  they should be lower
on  the  hierarchy because of the potential risks  to human
health  and  the  environment.    The document  also  sets  a
national  goal  of  managing  25  percent of the solid waste
through source reduction and recycling  by 1992.

92.  Reduction at source and recycling  are the least costly
and  environmentally the most  attractive  options  to  cope
with the  mounting solid waste problem.   But  they require
the  greatest  extent  of   mass   participation:   involving
changes   in  the  design  of  products   and  packaging  for
effective  waste   management   by   industries,   involving
modifications  in refuse collection arrangements  to cater
for  sorted garbage,  and, most  important of  all,  involving
all  citizens  in  changing  their   buying  and  consumption
habits and sorting  their garbage.  All  these  could  not  be
expected  to   happen   without   government  assistance,
guidance, and economic incentives.

93.  A  few states in  the  US are pretty  advanced  in their
recycling  programme.   At  least ten  states  currently have
beverage   container   refund   laws   ("bottle  bills"  which
either  require  consumers to  pay  a  5-10  cent  deposit when
they purchase beverages in disposable containers or provide
a  refund  value  to each bottle  returned)  and at least five
states have.enacted variations of mandatory recycling laws.
New  Jersey's  1987  mandatory  recycling   law,  the  Source
Separation and Recycling Act, is one of the more stringent.
It requires counties to adopt solid waste management plans,
to  be  approved  by the  state,  specifying materials  to  be
recycled  (e.g.  newspaper,  glass, cans).   After the plans
are  approved,   municipalities  will  adopt  ordinances
requiring  residents  to separate from their refuse  at least
four of the approved materials.  Penalties  for violations
may range  from  fines  to  refusal to  pick up all trash.  The
plan also  includes a strategy for collection and marketing,
such as providing tax breaks for  the purchase of recycling
equipment  and a  state government  commitment  to  purchase
products made from recycled materials.
Solid Waste Management, in Hong Kong

94.  Like the  US,  Hong Kong  is  also experiencing  a  rapid
growth  in  the  solid waste  stream.    In  1985,  about  6,880
tons  of waste  were  generated every day  from residential,
commercial,  and  industrial sources.   The figure  for 1986
was  8,100  tons,  or an  increase  of 17.7  percent.   With
growing  population  and increased affluence,  the  amount is
estimated to rise  at  an  average rate of about  10 percent
per year,  such that by the year 2000, Hong  Kong  will need
to find capacity for 16,000 tons of waste each day.


95.  Landfilling.  and  incineration   are  the  two  means  to
dispose  of waste  in Hong Kong.  There are  three  municipal
incinerators and four landfills now in use in Hong Kong.  I
remember locating these facilities on a map of Hong Kong to
my tutor and she was surprised at  their  proximity to  urban
areas.   Despite the building  of  higher stacks,  the Kennedy.
Town and Lai Chi  Kok  incinerators  are sources  of frequent
complaints.   Residents living in  the  nearby estates  are
naturally  concerned about air  pollution  generated  from
these facilities.   Since incineration has to be retained to
handle  some  of our waste,  in  the  short  term, incineration
facilities should  be  subject  to more regular  inspection,
close  monitoring,   and technical   improvements  to  reduce
nuisance  and   health  hazards.     In  the  long  term,
consideration  should be  given to turning our incineration


plants  into  waste-to-energy facilities applying the latest
available technology.


96.  Landfilling  is  the cheapest way  to  dispose of waste,
but  it  could also create  the  greatest potential of health
and  environmental hazard.   Older landfills are simply pits
where trash  is dumped, compacted,  and then covered.   Rain
water   coming  into  contact  with  the  garbage  dissolves
materials  creating  leachate  that  can  run  off into  the
surface water or  emit hazardous gases,  especially in the
case where codisposal  of chemical waste in the landfills is
practiced.   The  severity of this problem is illustrated in
the  US  by the fact that  one  out of  every five hazardous
waste  sites   on   the  National  Priority  List  that  require
cleanup under  the  Superfund programme  is a former municipal
landfill.    I  am  not  sure about  the  extent  of pollution
prevention measures  being adopted in  our  past and present
landfills,  but the  US  experience  and  the fact that  our
landfills are  so  close to urban residence should call for a
detailed examination.   This at least goes some way towards
an "anticipate-and-prevent" approach.

97.  In anticipation of the increased waste problem in Hong
Kong, I understand that - plans  are in hand  to provide two
huge landfill  sites  in the Western New Territories  and the
North Eastern, New Territories,  and consultants  have  been
engaged  to study ways and means  to  reduce their impact on
health  and the environment.   While landfills will continue
to be essential to handle our waste, they should be made as
safe as possible through a combination of proper design and
operation, and a  ban  on certain  types  of waste  from the

98.  The  two  new planned  landfills  may  provide  adequate
disposal  capacity  up  to  the  year  2015,  but  they  will
merely  address the symptoms rather  than the  cause of  the
problem.   To tackle the  waste problem at  its root,  waste
minimisation  and  recycling should be  made a  priority.   A
cursory examination of our daily habits will indicate that
we   are  probably  consuming   a  lot  of   things  quite
unnecessarily and throwing away too much.  The conservation
merit in  Chinese  culture is gradually being  eaten  away by
increased  affluence   and  an   emphasis  on  speed  and
convenience.    The number of plastic bags  one gets  after a
visit to  the market or the  supermarket  is sometimes  quite
ridiculous.   People need  to be educated to appreciate that
what we throw away today will  remain  for  the next  few
generations.     This  is particularly  true in the  case of
plastic  products  which  take  ages to  bio-degrade  in  a
landfill.    It  is time  for us  to  spread the  message  of


resource.conservation  if  we wish to create a better living
environment for ourselves and our future generations.


99.  The  benefits of  recycling are  clearly recognizable;
the question  is how  to make it work.   Getting consumers to
participate  and establishing  markets   for  recovered
materials  are   crucial   to   any  successful  recycling
programmes. .  Consumers can separate  their  garbage to set
aside  recyclables,  e.g.  glass,  cans, and  newspapers,  for
pickup; permit others  to  retrieve the valuable components;
or return selected items, e.g. used batteries and tires, to
the  place of purchase or  take  them to  a  collection or
redemption centre.   In some places in the  US,  such as the
Shenandoah  National  Park  I  visited,  there  are  reverse
vending machines  to accept  returned containers and disburse
deposit  refunds.     After  inserting  their  containers,
customers are issued either cash or  a 'redeemable voucher.
In countries where there is a more developed and widespread
concern   for  the   environment,   voluntary  programmes  have.
taken  the place   of  schemes tied to  a monetary incentive.
For  example,  in Switzerland  and  West  Germany,  bottle
collection containers  are scattered across  the country for
residents to drop off their disposable bottles.

100. The  other side of the recycling  coin is  strong and
stable  markets  for  the recovered  materials.   In  the US,
Australia, and Scandinavian and West European countries,
recycling  is  undergoing  a  major  transition,  from  small-
scale   operations to   large,   state-of-the-art  recycling
programmes  generating  business  for  professional  waste
management companies.   Economic,  legislative,  and market
factors are  helping  to make  recycling a viable  option to
deal with our solid waste  crisis.    The  mere  sorting of
garbage or collection  of  recyclable materials alone is not
recycling:  markets  for  recycled  products  have to  be
developed through government initiatives,  such as a change
in government purchasing rules that would give an advantage
to products containing  recycled materials,  and development
of technology to  turn  trash into treasure  in order to slow
down the depletion of natural resources.

101. At present,  the  recycling industry in Hong Kong is
mainly export-oriented  and  there is no mass participation.
Statistics showed that in  1986, there  was  a  significant
decrease  in  the  volume and value  of recovered  materials
exported.   The potential of  local  recycling in  Hong  Kong
should be explored in detail and individual citizens should
be encouraged to  participate.    Recycling  (including  reuse
of a  lot  of  materials)  is  not  only  important  in reducing
the  waste  stream,    slowing   the  depletion  of  natural


resources, but it is actually  a very good education tool to
increase  awareness  among  the  general  public  of  waste

102. Promotion  of  recycling   will  require  stimulation  of
markets  for  recyclable materials and  demands for recycled
products. .  As  illustrated  above,  there  can be  a  host of
innovative ideas to promote recycling but what is needed is
concerted  effort and  organisation.    I  suggest that  the
Government   should   consider   establishing   an
interdepartmental group  to study  the  issue  in  detail,  to
look  at   the   available  possibilities,   to  examine  the
necessary incentives, and to come up with a list of actions
to  promote  recycling.    It  would be very  helpful for this
group  to  learn  about  overseas experience,  and,  in this
respect, Japan is probably the best example.  (Japan is now
recycling  about  50  percent  of  her  solid  waste.    By
contrast, the US is recycling  only about ten percent of its
municipal solid waste.)   In addition,  there is  a huge body
of information on the latest.recycling markets,  technology,
and citizen  participation programmes  in the US  which could
be of immense reference value.

103. Hazardous waste sites topped the list of environmental
concerns  in  a recent  poll  conducted among  the  US public.
Environmental  risks   associated  with  the   skull  and
crossbones symbol  has  in the last decade attracted greater
public attention  in the US  than  the conventional forms of
air  and  water pollution.   As the experience of trying to
throw  away  toxic  waste  in  the US has proven, there  is no
place  that  is  "away".    Improperly  managed and discarded
hazardous waste will eventually surface and threaten public
health, water, and the environment.

Hazardous Waste Management in the US

104. In  the  US,   a new wave of  environmental  problems
arising from  the  past  hazardous waste disposal  was brought
to  national  attention  in a  series  of incidents  of  large
scale  contamination  in the  mid-1970s.  These  included the
one  took place  in  Love Canal,  Niagara  Falls,   New  York,
where  people  were   evacuated   from  their  homes  after
hazardous waste  buried  for  over  25  years  seeped to  the
surface  and   into  basements.   In  Times  Beach,  Missouri,
where  oil contaminated with  dioxin  was  used on  roads  and
subsequently  polluted   the   soil  and  groundwater,  the  US
Government was obliged to buy up the entire community.

105. Growing national  concern led to the enactment of two


 federal laws on  hazardous  waste management.  The  Resource
 Conservation and Recovery  Act  of 1976, or  RCRA,  regulates
 the  management  and  disposal  of newly  created  hazardous
 waste;  and  the  Comprehensive Environmental   Response,
 Compensation  and  Lability  Act  of  1980,   or   Superfund,
 establishes a  fund to  finance  cleanup of waste  spills  and
 uncontrolled disposal sites for hazardous  waste.

 The US Resource Conservation and Recovery  Act 1976

 106.  RCRA  promulgates a "cradle-to-grave"  approach covering
 the  generation,  transportation,  storage,  treatment,   and
 disposal  of hazardous  waste.     Such  a  "cradle-to-grave"
 approach includes five  basic elements:

 (a)  Identification—generators and  the types of  waste they
      produce must be  initially  identified;

 (b)  Tracking—the hazardous waste  being  transported from
      the  point  where  it  is  generated  to the  point   of
      treatment  or  disposal  must  be  accompanied  by  a
      manifest  describing  the  waste, its   quantity,   the
      generator, and the receiver;

 (c)  Permitting—all  hazardous  waste  treatment,  storage,
      and  disposal  facilities  must  be   subject  to  a
      permitting process to enable the  regulatory agency to
      ensure its safety;

,(d)  Restrictions and controls—hazardous waste facilities,
      after being  issued with  a permit, must continue   to
      comply with certain  standards  specifying   acceptable
      conditions for operation and storage; and

 (e)  Enforcement and compliance—generators and  receivers
      must  be  penalised  if  they  fail  to  comply with  the

 107.  The permitting procedure  is fundamental to hazardous
 waste management under RCRA.  But progress  in implementing
 the  permit programme  has  been  very  slow.    Since   the
 enactment  of the legislation  in 1976, EPA  and  the  states
 have  issued permits to only 16 percent of the 4,000  active
 hazardous  waste management  facilities  in the country.  That
 is  to say,  the  great  majority of  these  facilities are still
 being operated  in  a sub-standard fashion  and  could very
 well  appear  later on  in  the   National  Priority  List   of
 hazardous  waste  sites  that  require cleanup action under

The US Superfund Programme
 108. Under  the Superfund programme,  EPA has implemented a
 process  to  clean up abandoned  hazardous waste sites.   The
 process  begins  with  site  identification,  followed  by  a
 preliminary  assessment  to  determine  whether there  is an
 immediate threat which would require  emergency attention or
 whether  further investigation is needed.  The investigation
 report   is  then  evaluated  by  reference  to a  Hazardous
 Ranking  System which will determine whether the site should
 be  included  in the National Priority List,  EPA's official
 list of  hazardous  waste sites  that warrant attention under
 the  Superfund  programme.    The  spirit  of  the  Superfund
 legislation  is to make  responsible  parties do or  pay for
 the cleanup.   But in reality, the identification of parties
 responsible   for   contaminating  a  site  which  has  been
 abandoned for  a long time proves to be extremely difficult.
 Even when the  culprits  could  be  identified, negotiations
 with them are time-consuming.   As a result, progress under
 Superfund has  been very  slow.   Of the close to 1,200 sites
 on  the  National Priority  List, only  14 have so  far been
 cleaned  up.  The rest remain as chemical time bombs.

 109. In   addition,  Superfund  is   an  extremely  costly
 programme.   A total  of US$1.6  billion was spent during its
 first  five-year period.    In  1987,  Congress reauthorised
 Superfund with a US$8.5 billion  budget for  the  next five
 years.    Furthermore,  scientists  and  environmentalists are
 becoming  increasingly   sceptical   of  the  permanent  and
 complete nature of such  cleanup actions.  They are wary of
 the  transportation  of  hazardous  waste  uncovered  from  a
 Superfund  site  to  a  RCRA site  which  has  yet  to  meet
 regulatory standards.

 Hazardous Waste Management in Hong Kong

 110. In  Hong  Kong>  it is estimated that industry produces
 about  40,000  tons  of  chemical waste  every  year.    This
 figure   should  ,not  be  alarming  and  might  even  be  an
 underestimate  as  our   textile,   leather,   plastics,   and
 painting industries are  all generators of chemical wastes,
most of'them are potentially hazardous.

 111. There  is  at  present  no  chemical  waste  treatment
 facility  in  Hong Kong  and  it  is  doubtful whether  any
treatment of chemical wastes,  which  are residues  in the
manufacturing  process,  is  being undertaken  on-site.   Very
often,   these  wastes  are   discharged  into  the  municipal
 sewage treatment  system, and in  the  worst  case,  they are
 simply  disposed  of  unscrupulously  to  drains  and  open
 sewers.   Codisposal  of  chemical waste with municipal waste
at certain landfills is  practiced on  a limited basis under


authorisation by  the Environmental  Protection  Department.
As  a  result/ hundreds  of  toxic substances and  chemicals,
with  known  or  unknown impact  on  human  health  and  the
environment,  end  up  on our land  and,  through  seepage  or
leachate, in our water.

112. As  far  as  I  understand,  there are plans  to step  up
regulation of chemical waste in Hong Kong.   These include a
proposed  chemical waste  treatment  plant  in Tsing  Yi,  a
notification system for all disposal of  chemical  waste,  and
studies on precautionary measures  regarding land disposal.
However, unless  what .is being implemented is a complete  and
full-proof   "cradle-to-grave"   scheme,   we   are  only
transferring  these hazardous substances from one site  to
another,  from one medium  to another (e.g. simply burying
them would  result in a subsequent contamination of  water
through  run-off  and pollution  of  the  air  through gaseous
emission), and delaying the problem.  The present control
arrangements and  those  proposed need to  be strengthened in
order to satisfy the five basic components  of  a  "cradle-to-
grave" approach  outlined above.

113. While availability of  information  on the  generation
and  disposal  of   chemical  waste  under   the proposed
notification system is  essential,  it alone is not going to
solve  the problem.   As  pointed   out  in another context,
industries   cannot   be  relied   upon  to   protect   the
environment  voluntarily.     Some   sort   of permit   system
accompanied by penalties for violations  has to be in place
to  force  industries  to  accept proper waste disposal  as  an
integral part of  their  operation.   The  Superfund programme
in  the  US and our own  asbestos problem  have  clearly shown
that remedial actions are expensive,. and do not guarantee a
perfect solution.

114. Two  other  areas in hazardous waste management  which
have  attracted  recent  attention  in the  US  are leaking
underground  storage  tanks  and  disposal  of medical  waste,
both are the subjects of new legislation or regulations.

Underground Storage Tanks

115. Several  million  underground   storage  tanks  containing
hazardous substances  or petroleum  products are  in  use  in
the US,  almost  half  of them are  petroleum  storage  tanks
owned by  gas  stations.    An estimated 400,000 of them  are
thought  to  be leaking  because of  tank corrosion,   piping
failures,  installation  mistakes,   spills  or   overfills.
Substances   released  from  these  leaking  tanks   can
contaminate groundwater supplies,   poison crops,  and  damage
sewer lines.


 116. Congress  responded  in 1984 to the  problem  of leaking
 underground   storage  tanks   by   amending  the  Resource
 Conservation  and Recovery  Act  to  empower  EPA  to develop
 regulations  to  protect  human  health  and  the  environment
 from  leaking  tanks.    As  a   first  step,  all  owners  or
 operators  of  underground  storage  tanks  are required  to
 register their tanks with their respective state agencies,
 providing  information on tank  age, storage,  and contents.
 This enables  states  to  establish,  for the first  time,  an
 inventory of tanks in their jurisdictions.

 117. In  October  1988,  EPA  promulgates  regulations  for
 underground  storage tanks.   These  require the  meeting  of
 requirements  concerning  correct  installations,  spill  and
 overfill  prevention,   corrosion  protection,   and  leak
 detection  by  underground  storage  tanks  installed  after
 December 1988.   As  regards tanks installed before December
 1988, they are required  to meet requirements  for corrosion
 protection,    spill   and  overfill  prevention,   and  leak
 detection.   Generally  speaking,  owners  or  operators  are
 financially responsible  for the cost  of  cleaning up a leak
 or compensating  other people  for bodily  damage  or property
 damage caused by their leaking tanks.

Medical Waste

 118. The problem of medical waste disposal has  caught  the
 attention of  the news media and the public as a result  of
 incidents of  medical waste washed ashore in  the summer  of
 1988 leading  to beach closure  in New  York  and  New Jersey.
 The  wastes include  used  needles  and  syringes,  bags  and
vials containing blood traces,  and other  disposable items
 used  in  hospitals  and  clinics,   many  of   which  are
potentially  infectious.    According  to  the  US EPA,  the
washing up of  medical wastes  could be due  to a  variety  of
 sources, including  illegal  dumping  at  sea,  sewer overflow,
 stormwater runoff,  illegal drug  users,  and  the generally
 inadequate  handling  of  solid  wastes  at  landfills  and
 coastal transfer facilities.

 119. It  is estimated that hospitals  in  the US  generate
 about 3.2  million  tons  of medical  waste  per  year.   EPA
 estimates  that  ten  to  15 percent  of  hospital waste  is
potentially  infectious.    In  1986,  EPA  published  the  EPA
Guide  for  infectious   Waste   Management   which  outlines
environmentally  acceptable   techniques   for  managing
infectious  waste.    But  like  the  solid  waste  problem,
management and regulation  remains  very much a state  and
 local business.

 120. In  response  to  growing  concern  expressed  by  the
public,   Congress enacted a Medical  Waste Tracking  Act  in


the  fall  of 1988.  The  Act  requires  the EPA Administrator
to  promulgate  regulations  for  a  two-year  demonstration
programme to track medical waste  from its generation to its
disposal.   The programme is  intended  to be established in
the  states  of  New York,  New Jersey, Connecticut, the Great
Lakes,  and  any  other states  that  choose to  be included.
Meanwhile,  a  Medical Waste  Task  Force  has  been  formed
within  EPA  to develop an  action plan,  to  coordinate with
states and other organisations, and to communicate with the
public.    The  Task  Force  is   expected  to  put  forward
recommendations  on  the  management  of  medical  waste  by
February 1989.

121. Leaking  underground storage tanks  and medical  waste
are potential  areas of  environmental  concerns  in Hong Kong
especially  in view of  our population  density.    Fire and
environmental  hazards associated with  underground storage
tanks have in the past led to residents' resistance against
the  siting  of  gas stations  in  their  proximity.   Again,
applying  the  "anticipate-and-prevent"   principle,  studies
and  discussion should be  initiated on  these  areas.   The
adequacy  of  protection  against  these  potential  hazards
under   the   Dangerous   Goods  Ordinance  (which  defines
dangerous goods  and control their  storage  and transport),
the  Pharmacy  and   Poisons   Ordinance  (which  specifies
approved  medicines  and  poisons  and  provides  for  their
control and disposal),   and  the  Dangerous  Drugs  Ordinance
(which  controls  disposal  of dangerous  drugs),   should  be

Household Hazardous Waste

122. Although  industries  are   the  main  generators  of
hazardous waste, there are many hazardous materials around
the  house  which  call for proper treatment and  disposal.
Paint,   drain  cleaners,   furniture  polishes,   pesticides,
disinfectants,  and  many  household  items  contain  toxic
chemicals that should  not  be simply  poured out on  the
ground or down the drain.   These chemicals  may  damage our
sewers and  affect  the proper functioning of the wastewater
treatment- facilities  which are  not designed to  deal  with

123. Given  the  small  amounts generated  by  each  household,
it  is  impossible  to bring  them under  federal  or  state
regulation  in* the US.   As a result,  many  state  and local
authorities   and  non-governmental  groups  specialising  in
waste   management  have  launched  innovative   campaigns
designed  to educate  the public,  while  at  the  same  time
slowly  systematizing  the  disposal  of  hazardous  waste
generated daily at the household level.   Such locally-based
programmes  are . underway  in  the  states  of   California,


Florida, Washington, Massachusetts, and Alaska.

124.  In  Hong Kong, the  Consumer Council has  from time to
time  alerted the public  of safety precautions  in the use of
household  hazardous substances.   These  include  following
label instructions, keeping  children away  from  hazardous
materials, proper  storage, etc.  However, the  environmental
impact  of such  hazardous -substances  does  not end  when a
pesticide  can  is  thrown into the trash bin.    People should
be  educated  on the proper disposal  of household  hazardous
waste and, better  still,  on minimising the use of  hazardous

Export: of  Hazardous Waste

125.  In a  global context, the export of hazardous  waste has
become a subject of increased concern.  With more  stringent
regulations  regarding  hazardous waste and  rising disposal
costs  at  home,   many   disposal  firms  in  industrialised
nations  are  looking  for disposal  sites  overseas.   Their
destination  is  usually in the  Third  World  countries which
are   starved   of   foreign  exchange.     Such  transfer  of
hazardous  waste   is  often  not  accompanied  by  adequate
notification,  information  on  the  potential  hazards  of
mismanagement,  and  without   regard whatsoever  to  the
receiving  country's ability and  knowledge to handle such

126.  Under current  rules in   the  US, wastes defined  as
hazardous  cannot  be  legally  exported  unless:  (1)  the
exporter  notifies  EPA;  and  (2) the  country  receiving the
wastes  consents  to  accept  it.    In reality,  there  are
problems   of  prompt  notification  and enforcement.    The
receiving  country's consent  is also no guarantee  of proper
treatment  given the poverty  in many of these countries and
the alleged  corruption in their governments.   The problem
is aggravated  by  illegal dumping of hazardous waste on the
soil  of  a  Third  World  country.     In  a  conference  on
hazardous  waste  export,   the Nigerian  Ambassador  condemned
such  waste  disposal   on African  soil  as   "an  attack  on
African dignity."

127.  The  export  of hazardous  waste to developing nations
has  attracted  increased  attention  in  the   international
forum.     More  than  40 nations   and   15   international
organisations are working on an international  convention to
regulate transboundary shipments  of hazardous waste, under
the auspices  of  the United  Nations Environment Programme.
In May  1988,  the  European Parliament  unanimously  passed a
resolution  calling for  a  ban on  large  scale export  of
hazardous  waste from  Europe  to developing countries.  At a
meeting   in   June  1988,  11   out  of  the  12   countries


represented  at the  European  Community Environment Council
favoured  a  ban  on  toxic  waste  shipments  to developing
countries:  the United  Kingdom was  the only  country that

128.  I am not  aware  of any  involvement of Hong  Kong in this
international  trade  of  hazardous  waste.   However,  in the
context  of' chemical waste  management,   the  absence  of
treatment  facilities in  Hong Kong  may have  required the
export  of  some  of  our  chemical  waste, either to another
country  for treatment  or  for disposal.    This problem is
flagged here for  further examination.

129. As  described in  previous  paragraphs, the  release of
toxic chemicals  to air, water,  and land is regulated under
the  respective  laws   and  pollution  abatement  programmes.
This  section discusses  the regulation and control  of the
use of  pesticides  and  other commercial chemical substances
in the US.

The US Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act.

130. Pesticides  are  widely used in agriculture  and  in our
everyday life.  An average  citizen is exposed to pesticides
through  food,  drinking, and personal use  of  pesticides at
home.   Farm workers are exposed to  even  greater levels of
pesticide on a  routine basis.   The large scale application
of  a variety of  synthetic  organic  pesticides has  been
hailed  as  the. major  contributing  factor  to  the  dramatic
increase -in  agriculture output in  the US after World War
II.    However,  health  effects  and  environmental  risks
associated  with  the use of pesticides  have  ushered  in a
series of regulatory attempts.

131. In  the US,  the  Federal  Insecticide, Fungicide,  and
Rodenticide  Act  (FIFRA) was  first enacted  in  1947.   The
main  provision  of  FIFRA  was  a  requirement  that  all
pesticides  must  be   registered   prior   to   their  sale.
Registration,  then  administered   by  the  Department  of
Agriculture, was very much  a matter of routine.  The method
of registration  was  to register the label, requiring it to
specify  the  ingredients,   specify  the  crops,   pests,  for
which the  pesticide  was intended, and  to  bear appropriate
instructions and  cautions  for use.   Under the  Act,  if the
Department of Agriculture  refused  to  register a pesticide,
the manufacturer could still  market it "under protest", in
which case  the  Department   of Agriculture  had to prove the
pesticide's harmfulness.  The "under protest"  provision was
removed  in  1964  but  regulation  of  pesticides  remains


 largely inadequate.   Since  then, thousands  of pesticide
 products  have  been  registered  although  their   safety
 standards  are  doubtful.

 132.  In response to growing concerns  about the effects of
 pesticides on  fish and wildlife and' human health, the most
 notable of which  are expressed in Rachel  Carson's  Silent
 Spring  published in  1964,  the pesticide law was  largely re-
 written in  the early  1970s,  and  the  registration  and
 regulation authorities were transferred  to the then newly
 established  EPA.  The amended  FIFRA  establishes a broader
 regulatory  programme  which  requires  manufacturers  to
 provide data on the potential  effects of the chemicals on
 health,  fish  and wildlife,  and  the  nature  of  residues
 likely  to  occur  in  food and feed  crops  in seeking  a
 registration.     The  Act  specifically  requires  EPA  to
 register pesticide products on  the basis of both safety and
 benefits.'   In  other words, EPA has to determine whether a
 pesticide  can  perform  its  intended function without causing
 "unreasonably  adverse effects"  upon  human health  or  the
 environment   while   taking   into   account   the  potential
 benefits of  the proposed use.   This balancing of risks and
 benefits  approach has often  been a  controversial  subject
 and has, in some extreme cases, led to cost-benefit studies
 which give a price tag to  each human life lost.

 Reregistration of Pesticides

 133. To ensure  that  previously  registered  pesticides
 measure up to  current scientific and regulatory standards,
 the amended  FIFRA requires the review and "reregistration"
 of  all  existing pesticides:  there are  more  than  45,000
 commercial  pesticide  products  in the  market,  involving
 about 600 active ingredients.  Owing to the sheer magnitude
 of the  task and  the lack of adequate resources, progress on
 "reregistration" has been  very slow.  To date, EPA has only
 issued   "Registration  Standards"   for about  180   active
 ingredients that require reregistration under FIFRA.

 134. In  an attempt  to speed  the  registration  process,  a
 scheme  of  "conditional  registration"  has   been put  into
practice since 1978.  This allows EPA to approve on a case-
by-case basis  registration of  a new  product conditionally
 if it  does not  increase  the  risk of  unreasonable  adverse
effects  on the  environment.    Three  types   of  conditional
registration may be  approved:  for pesticides  identical  or
substantially  similar  to  currently registered pesticides;
 for  current  registration  to  add   new   uses;   and  for
pesticides  containing new active  ingredients  subject  to
certain conditions.   If  subsequent testing  shows that  the
new products have unacceptable adverse implications,  they
are then  withdrawn,  restricted, or  banned.   In addition,


under certain circumstances, EPA may take action to suspend
the  registration  of  a  pesticide to  prevent  an  imminent
hazard.   The "conditional registration"  provision has been
severely  criticized by  environmentalists as  a device  to
sidestep  the  registration  requirements  and  confirms  a
situation  that  another  environmentalist described:  that
pesticides in the US are innocent until proven guilty.

135. The  enforcement  of  FIFRA has so  far been handicapped
by  two  provisions  in  the  law  which  I find  absolutely
ridiculous.    The  first  requires  EPA  to  accept  certain
suspended  and   cancelled  pesticides   for   disposal  at
government expense  while  another  requires EPA to reimburse
holders  of  such  suspended  and  cancelled  pesticides  for
financial  losses   suffered,  up  to   the   cost   of  the
pesticide, the so-called indemnification provision.

The 1988  Amendments to  the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide,
and Rodenticide Act

136. Some of these  loopholes  in the  law  are  plugged by the
FIFRA Amendments  signed into  law  in  October  1988.   These
amendments end automatic indemnity payments for all persons
other than certain end users, such as farmers, and that all
indemnity payments made will come from the Treasury and not
from  EPA's -operating  budget.    Among  other  things,  the
amended FIFRA also stipulates a substantial, acceleration of
the  reregistration  process   for  previously  registered
pesticides  and  authorizes  the  collection  of  fees  from
manufacturers to support registration activities.  Congress
hoped that  with an enhanced  programme,  all  reregistration
should be completed in a period of nine years.

Regulation of Pesticide Residues in Food

137. As an additional measure of public protection from the
adverse effects  of pesticides, EPA  is  required under the
Federal  Food,  Drug,  and  Cosmetic  Act  (FFDCA)   to  set
tolerance levels  for .all pesticides  used on  food  or feed
crops.    These are  amounts  of pesticide  residues  that may
safely  remain  in  a  treated  food  or  feed  crop  after
harvesting.  " They are usually set well below—normally 100
times below—the  level  that might cause  harm  to people or
the  environment.    The  Food  and Drug  Administration  is
responsible  for  enforcing  these  tolerances  by  inspecting
agricultural commodities,  both domestic and imported,  to
ensure that residues in food  for  sale  in the  market do not
exceed the limits  established  by  EPA.  In addition,  the US
Department  of  Agriculture  inspects  meat  and poultry for
such residues.   Any food found to have  residues in excess
of  the   tolerance  level  is  subject to   seizure  and

 Integrated Pest Management

 138. Scientists, agriculturalists, and environmentalists in
 the  US  are  promoting  the  concept  of  Integrated  Pest
 Management   (IPM)  as  a  means  to  reduce  dependence  on
 pesticides.     IPM  is  an  ecological  approach  to  pest
 management that  takes  into account the biology of the pest
 and its integration with the environment.  Although IPM may
 include the  use  of chemicals,  it leaves toxic chemicals as
 a  last  resort  to  be  applied  in  the  minimum  amounts
 possible.  There have been some success stories in IPM, but
 the feasibility of its application on a large scale remains
 to be  tested.   Meanwhile, use  of  pesticides will continue
 to serve as a quick fix.

 139. Given  the  popularity of  pesticide  products in  the
 home,  EPA is  in the  process  of  examining  the  extent  of
 consumer exposure  to  unsafe  levels of pesticides from home
 and  garden products.   Through  publications  and improved
 labelling  of  products, consumers are  being  educated about
 the safe use of pesticides.

 Pesticide Regulation in Hong Kong

 140. In Hong Kong,  the regulation  of the use of pesticides
 and contamination  in  food  produce  is scattered in a number
 of statutes,  with the implementation  and  enforcement work
 being  undertaken  by a number of branches  and departments,
 such  as  the  Agriculture  and  Fisheries  Department,  the
Municipal Services  Branch, the  Urban and Regional Councils
 and  their supporting  departments.   As .we import  a  great
 proportion of  our food,  the control  over  imported produce
 seems  particularly  important.   In  the past,  there has been
 isolated incidents of contaminated vegetables imported from
 China,  posing  direct  health  hazards to residents  in Hong

 141. Given my limited knowledge on the present arrangements
 regarding pesticide regulation in Hong Kong,  I am not going
 to comment in detail.   However,  it  would  be  helpful  to
 recognise that the safe and efficient use of pesticides has
a  significant  impact  on  our environment.   Are  Hong Kong
 residents  being   adequately  protected   from  pesticide
products  that  might pose adverse  health  and environmental
hazards?   Are we permitting  on our shelves  products that
might  have  been banned  or restricted in  another country?
Are consumers  generally  well  aware of safe  pesticide use?
Do we  have sufficient  labelling  requirements?   While the
 Environmental Protection Department currently has no active
 role to play in the regulation of pesticides, it appears to
me that coordination  of  present efforts in  this  area is a


subject worthy of the attention of the new Environment and
Planning Branch,

Control of Toxic  Substances in the US

142. The  potential  damages  of  toxic  substances,  many of
which  have  useful   commercial  values,  were  brought  to
national attention in the US in the early 1970s as a result
of   a   number   of  large  scale  contamination  incidents.
Chemicals   found   posing   hazards   included  mercury,
polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), asbestos, vinyl chloride,
etc.  At that  time, each of these substances was dealt with
on  an  ad hoc basis under the  various  air,  water,  and
pesticide  legislation.    To  provide a  framework  to  deal
comprehensively  with these  problems  of  toxic  substances,
the  Toxic Substances Control  Act  (TSCA)  was enacted by
Congress in 1976.  Basically, the law does three things: It
seeks to  prevent pollution  incidents  through requirements
for  premarket  testing;   it  places the burden  of  proof on
the  manufacturer or  distributor of the  chemical;  and it
provides authority to control  toxic substances not subject
to existing  laws.  EPA  is  charged with the responsibility
to enforce TSCA and  reporting,  testing, and record keeping
requirements have been  stipulated  to facilitate control of
toxic substances.


143. Since enactment of TSCA,  EPA  has worked to  address
problems  associated  with   PCBs,   asbestos,   dioxin,   and
chlorofluorocarbons  (CFCs).   The Agency  has  also gathered
information on the toxicity  and releases  of a large number
of chemicals and  has  set up  an inventory  of all chemicals.
In .the  case  of  PCBs,  EPA  has  banned  the  manufacture,
processing,  and  use  of   PCBs.     The  Agency  has  also
established regulations  for  the disposal  of  PCBs.   It is
estimated  that about  400  million tons of PCBs  are still
being used or  stored in the US.   Efforts  to ensure their
proper  disposal  in   the  next  few years  are  one   of  the
Agency's 'priorities.


144. In the case  of  asbestos,  EPA  has  worked  to reduce the
exposure of school children  to asbestos under the Asbestos
School  Hazard  Abatement  Act  of 1984  (which  provides  an
interest-free  loan or grant to schools  for asbestos control
projects) and  the Asbestos Hazard Emergency Response Act of
1986  (which  requires  schools  to  identify and respond to
their  asbestos  problems.)    The  Agency  has  established
centres for  the  training of asbestos   control  and  removal
personnel but  the actual progress in removing asbestos from


buildings  has   been   slow.     In  October  1988,  Congress
enacted  the   Asbestos  Information  Act  which  requires
manufacturers to supply information  to EPA.  The Agency has
yet  to  develop  a strategy  for  eliminating  exposure  to

Regulation of Toxic Substances  in Hong Kong

145. In  Hong Kong, regulations  governing  the handling and
disposal  of   asbestos  and   PCBs  have  recently  been
promulgated.  Financial  assistance  is   made  available  to
facilitate  public schools  to  remove  asbestos  from their
buildings.   But the  extensive use of asbestos in the older
buildings,   in   particular  large  public  housing  estates
affecting  a  substantial  population,  means  that  we  are
facing  a problem which  requires enormous  resources.   A
related  problem is whether Hong Kong has  adequate trained
personnel  to  undertake  the  task.    We  are  aware  that
improper asbestos removal action, which will increase -the
chance of the inhalation of these toxic materials, is going
to create much greater  hazards than  asbestos use itself.

146. Information  gathering is a crucial part in the control
and  regulation  of toxic  substances.  While  Hong  Kong can
generally  rely  on  the  studies in other  industrialized
countries for  information on  the health and  environmental
effects  of a chemical, we need  to have  information  on the
sources  and  routes of  exposure to a chemical in the local
situation.   The  Bhopal disaster in India and  the  lethal
fire in a leather  factory in Hong Kong a few years ago have
illustrated  the  extent of threat caused by the absence  of
information  on  what  is going  on  in  our  industrial plants.
An  examination  of the  various statutes relating  to toxic
substances should  be examined with a view to strengthen the
data-gathering provisions in  order  to  assist  determination
of   the   nature   and   extent   of  risks  posed  by   these
chemicals.   Similarly,  coordination of  present efforts  on
the  control  and regulation  of  toxic substances appears  to
be  a profile  that  could  be  assumed  by the  new  policy

Control of Noise Pollution in the US

147. Although -the  Noise  Control  Act  and  some  of  the
regulations issued under  its  authority remain in effect, a
federal noise  control programme is  virtually non-existent
in  the  US.   First enacted  in 1972, the Noise  Control  Act
gave  EPA  the  basic  authority  to  control noise  pollution
through a comprehensive approach.   Under this legislation,


EPA  was authorised  to establish noise  emission standards
for  products,  to  provide  for the  coordination  of  federal
research  on noise  control,  and to  propose  regulations to
abate  noise from  aircraft  operations.   During  the Carter
Administration,  EPA's  Noise  Control Programme was expanded
to regulate noise from trucks, railroad engines and cars,
and  to  require labelling for products which emit excessive

148. The   federal   Noise   Control   Programme  underwent  a
gradual phase-down during 1981 and 1982, finally ceasing to
exist at the end of  the fiscal year 1982.   EPA's Office of
Noise Abatement  and Control was shut down and the Assistant
Administrator  for Air,  Noise,  and Radiation  was retitled
the  Assistant  Administrator  for Air and Radiation.   In the
judgement  of  the  Reagan  Administration,  noise .control is
one  of the areas which  properly  should  be  regulated by
state   and  local   governments  instead   of  the  federal

Noise Control Legislation in Hong Kong

149. On the contrary, the Hong Kong Government is enhancing
its   noise . control  programme   through  enactment   of
legislation.   The Noise  Control  Bill  1988,  introduced in
June 1988,  seeks to  significantly  expand the present scope
of  noise   regulations  contained in  various  ordinances to
deal with the four major sources of noise:

(a)  Piling and  construction;

(b)  Domestic premises and public places;

(c)  Industrial  and commercial premises; and

(d)  Plant  items and equipment.

150. The   enactment   of   stringent   legislation must   be
accompanied by vigorous enforcement in order to achieve the
goal of a  quiet  environment.   As an attempt  to address  the
problem at source,  stronger  emphasis  must  be  placed on
planning  against  noise.    Town planning  and land  zoning
proposals   should be scrutinised to minimise the annoyance
caused  by  noise  to  sensitive  neighbourhoods,  such  as
schools and residences.    It has  to  be  recognized  that
planning against noise is more effective and  less  costly
than noise abatement projects.

151. The success  of environmental protection  requires  the


participation   and  involvement   of   the  community/   in
particular  those sectors which  have a direct  interest  on
the   subject   and   thus  have  a  greater  role  to  play.
"Partnership"  is a popular  concept within the  US  federal
government,  naturally  because   of  the  de-regulatory
philosophy of the Reagan Administration and its inclination
to delegate most of the executive responsibilities to state
and  local governments.   in  the  US  EPA,  partnership between
the  federal agency and states  is  emphasised?  states  are
charged  with the  responsibility to  plan, implement,  and
enforce  pollution  control measures under  federal  guidance
and   financial   assistance.     EPA's  Resource  Management
Division is  in the course of formulating  a Public-Private
Partnership  Strategy  which  will  determine the types  of
partnerships that  are viable under -the  current regulatory
and  legislative  climate.  EPA acknowledges that it  has  not
given  sufficient attention  in the past to the question  of
how  people—state  and local governments or private sector
business—will fund the  present  and future activities that
federal  regulations  impose.    As  a  first step,   EPA  has
recently provided  US$2  million to  private companies  and
research centres under  "cooperative agreements"   to  help
develop innovative new technologies for cleansing hazardous
wastes and cleaning up hazardous waste sites.

152. In my view, the concept of partnership should be given
a  wider  application.    The  government  should   consider  as
partners  not  only other regulatory  authorities  or  the
regulatees,  but  also   the professional community  and
environmental groups  which  share common  goals.   I  am  not
aware  of any  concerted  efforts  of  the  US   EPA   in  this
respect,  and on  the contrary, the  feedback I obtained from
environmentalists  suggests   a   very  flimsy   relationship
between  EPA and the  environmental  community;  some  even
described EPA's  attitude towards  environmental groups  as

Environmental Groups in the US

153. Having  visited  over a  dozen   non-governmental
environmental groups  in the  US,  I  must say that I  am more
impressed   by   people  working   in  these groups—their
personality, work and  achievements, perception of
problems—than by people within the Agency.   Whether they
are  scientists,  lawyers,  or administrators by profession,
most  of  them  have a  strong  passion  for protecting  the
environment.  All the environmental  groups are non-profit-
making organisations funded by membership dues, foundations
or  private  donations.    Generally speaking,   they   can  be
grouped into three main categories.

154. The first  group  consists  of  traditional  membership-


based organisations which have,  throughout the years, taken
on  a diversified portfolio,  for example, the  Sierra  Club
and  the  National Audubon Society.  While these groups are
active   in  promoting   appropriate   Congress   action   and
legislation to tackle environmental problems, they continue
to  place a heavy emphasis  on servicing  their  members,  in
organising  nature-oriented   activities   for  members,  in
publishing colourful magazines,  and  in generally promoting
an appreciation of the natural environment.

155. The  second  group  consists  of organisations  which are
more  action-oriented  in addressing  environmental problems
in  the   country.   Although  the  tactics  adopted by these
organisations  in achieving  their goals  may differ,  their
approach is usually more direct  and visible.   Organisations
like the  Natural  Resources   Defense   Council   and   the
Environmental  Defense  Fund  are  known for challenging EPA
and  other  regulatory  authorities in court:  they  often sue
EPA  for  failing to meet  statutory  deadlines or  act  in
accordance with -the mandates stipulated by Congress.   These
organisations are strongly staffed by attorneys and  have a
significant  input to  the  making of environmental  laws.
They  maintain  close liaison with Congressional  aides and
prepare   draft   legislation  for   the   consideration  of
Congressmen.  On the other hand,  there are groups like the
Greenpeace  which  tend  to adopt   more  confrontational
strategies, although I was assured by the officer-in-charge
of Greenpeace's Washington Office that they too try to  work
within the system.

156. The  third  group  is  composed  of  research-oriented
organisations  which  are  nonpartisan   in  nature  and which
refrain from any lobbying work.   Their main objective is to
improve  existing knowledge  and  information,  to expand the
scientific base,  and  to come up with feasible options  to
enable policy-makers to  arrive at more informed decisions.
The  WorldWatch  Institute,  the  World  Resources Institute,
and the Renew America Project are organisations that  belong
to  this  category.    These  organisations usually  have  a
multidisciplinary   staff   consisting   of  scientists,
economist, agriculturalists,  climatologists, etc.  and  many
of them  command  respect in  their respective fields.   They
frequently  testify  before Congress  to  present   their
research  products and  appear in open  forums to discuss
their views with a hope to arouse public concern.

157. The above categorisation inevitably  commits  the error
of over-generalisation: there are many groups  which  do not
fit  neatly into  any  of  these   compartments,  such  as the
National Wildlife Federation which tends to cover all three
aspects  adequately.  In  addition, there  is a growing trend
of environmental groups  forming  themselves into coalitions


to  facilitate  exchange of information,  such  as  the Global
Tomorrow  Coalition,  or alliances on a  special  issue,  such
as  the  National  Clean Air Coalition.   Needless  to say, all
these  groups  also  have  an  important  role to  play  in
environmental  education.   Their publications are  often of
very  high   quality.     I  am  particularly  impressed  by
publications  of  the  Worldwatch Institute:  its  WorldWatch
Papers  are  well-researched,   thoroughly argued  expositions
on  individual  subjects ranging from global  food  supply to
transport and  traffic problems; its  bi-monthly  Worldwatch
Magazine  is  critical  of current  developments;  and  its
annual  State of  the World document is  highly appraised of
and has been translated in most foreign languages including

Partnership with Environmental Groups

158. Cooperation and partnership with  these environmental
groups  will  certainly  be  advantageous  to  environmental
protection work  undertaken by the  government.  Given their
wide  membership   base   and  their  extensive   grassroots
contacts, they can  complement  the  role  of  the  regulatory
authorities  by  serving  as   useful  tentacles  to  uncover
potential environmental  hazards  and point their  fingers at
polluters.   Most important of all,  they will be  a powerful
force in promoting environmental education.

159. Most of  the  environmental groups currently  in  Hong
Kong, such  as  the  Conservancy Association,  Friends  of the
Earth, etc., are not very well established,  partly because
of  lack  of  funding and partly  because  of a  general apathy
towards  environmental  matters among the  great majority of
the  population.     But  they  have  potential  for  further
development and the Government could help to give a push by
recognising  their   contribution  in public,   by  consulting
them in  the  formulation  of policies,  and by involving them
in  community projects.   Unofficially,  there  should be more
contacts  between  administrators  in  the  government  and
leaders  in  these environmental  groups.  Given  our common
goals in improving  the  environment  of  Hong  Kong,  ongoing
communication  and  cooperation is certainly  more effective
than suspicion and confrontation.

Industries as Partners

160. Partnership  with  industries  is-  apparently  a  more
tricky question as they are naturally resistant  of any form
of  regulation.  The  only example of  industry taking  an
active interest  in  environmental problems that  I have seen
in  the  US is  on the CFC  and ozone  depletion issue.   The
Alliance For Responsible  CFC Policy is  formed by the major
CFC producers  in the US and  has been  actively  involved in


finding  CFC  substitutes.     (There  are  of  course  sound
commercial  reasons  for doing so  in  view of the  potential
market value  of  new substitute products.)   Recently,  they
have  come out to support a  more aggressive programme  to
phase  out  CFCs  than  that prescribed  under the  Montreal
Protocol.                                  •.        '

161. As  a  pioneer  to  establish  a  business-environment
connection,   the   National   Wildlife  Federation  has
established a Corporate  Conservation Council since 1982  to
foster  cooperation  between  two  traditional  adversaries:
corporate  executives  and  conservation  advocates.    The
Council's membership includes Dow Chemical,  ARCO,  Du Pont,
3M,   and   other  large  American   corporations.  •  While
assessments  on  the  success  of  this  scheme vary,  the
Corporate  Conservation  Council  at  least  opens  a  direct
dialogue between industrialists and environmentalists.

Promoting Public/Private Partnership in Hong Kong

162. Currently in Hong  Kong, public/private partnership  is
practiced through  our traditional consultative machinery,
with the Environmental Pollution Advisory Committee (EPCOM)
being Government's principal source  of  advice  on  pollution
matters.    The Committee is  chaired by an   unofficial and
consists of members drawn from the Legislative  Council, the
Urban  and  Regional  Councils,  District  Boards,   industry
associations,  and  environmental  groups.     While  this
consultative structure fits perfectly well into Hong Kong's
political  system  and has proven  to  be a useful  source  of
advice, the concept of  "partnership"  can be applied  more
extensively  and  may  take one  or more  of  the  following
forms: >

(a)  Close liaison with  local professional  groups,  such  as
     the Institute of Engineers,  the  science and technology
     faculties   in  the  universities,  the   Hong  Kong
     Productivity Council, the Hong  Kong  Consumer Council,
     etc.  to  explore  innovative  ways to  abate and prevent
     pollution problems.   These  bodies can   be engaged and
     funded to conduct  special research or  studies for the

(b)  Establishment of working groups under  EPCOM  involving
     a  larger cross-section of  the  community,   such  as
     schools, mass media, etc. on a  specified  project  like
     environmental education; and

(c)  Cooperation  with industries  and private companies who
     do business  in  the  field of  environment in organising
     joint   exhibitions   and   conferences  on  viable
     alternatives to reduce pollution.

All  in all, it  is important to spread  the  message and to
create the  image that government is not the lone fighter in
the  war  against  pollution;  that  a  clean  and  healthy
environment is everyboby's business and everyone has a part
to play.

163. This  paper  concludes  with a discussion on the subject
of environmental education, but not because it is the least
important.    On   the   contrary,   it  is  fundamental  to
environmental protection work in all parts of the world and
particularly in  Hong Kong  where an environmental ethic has
yet to  be  developed.  Public knowledge, understanding, and
support are essential for progress in improving the quality
of  our environment.   While  the government  can  stipulate
more  stringent  regulations  to  deal  with pollution,  its
citizens  may  not   follow  willingly   if  they  fail  to
understand or support the reasons behind those actions.

EPA's Role in Environmental Education

164. EPA was  set up  as  a  regulatory agency, and  has very
much remained so up  to this date. EPA's Office of Community
and  Intergovernmental  Relations,   where  I   have  spent  a
couple of months, is supposed to assume a coordinating role
on  environmental education matters,  to  serve  as a link
between community groups and the Agency,  and to  provide a
clearinghouse   for  information  and  resources   on
environmental education.   Unfortunately, the performance of
this office has a lot to be desired.   There is no definite
plans  or  strategy  to .carry  out its mandate;  information
about ongoing programmes in the non-governmental groups and
even within the  Agency  itself is scattered and incomplete;
and work is done on an extremely piecemeal fashion.

165. During my  stay in  the office,  the main focus was on
the President's Environmental Youth Awards programme.   This
programme  is  designed  to  encourage  young  people  from
kindergarten to grade 12,  individually or collectively, to
participate  in  projects  with  an  environmental  impact.
Every  year,'  each  of EPA's  ten   regions will  select  a
national winner who is then sent on an expense-paid trip to
Washington to attend an  award presentation ceremony.   The
award-winning projects  for the  year 1988 include a  sixth
grade  class  initiative  on  a recycling  project  in  their
school  in  New  York, a  twelfth  grade  student's  research
project on soil erosion in Florida, and a boy scout group's
efforts to construct trails and picnic tables in a National
Park.     While  the   idea  of   this  award  programme  is  a


commendable one, it alone is not going to  have a strong and
lasting impact on the community.

Role of States In Environmental Education

166. One of my assignments  in the Office of Community and
Intergovernmental  Relations  was  a  survey of  the states'
efforts and programmes on environmental education.  States
like California  and  Washington  have  a strong and cohesive
programme while other states are merely paying lip service.
In  some  of  the  states,  environmental  education  is  an
integral part of the school  curriculum.  Instruction in the
wise  use  of  natural  resources and protection  of  the
environment is very often infused into the health, science,
and  social  sciences  curriculum,  rather  than taught  as  a
separate  subject.    The State  of California  publishes  a.
Guide   for  the  Development  of  an Interdisciplinary
Environmental  Education   Curriculum  which   provides
guidelines  to  local   educators.     Schools  and  local
educational  authorities  also  resort  to  some  national
education  programmes  and teaching  aids,  such  as Project
WILD, Project  Learning  Tree,  or Project  CLASS,  to promote
environmental  education.    These  programmes  are  usually
developed by  non-governmental groups  with a  grant  from a
private  donation or  a government  source.    For  example,
Project CLASS (Conservation  Learning Activities for Science
and Social Studies) was developed by  the  National Wildlife
Federation in  1982  with  a  grant from the National Science
Foundation.     It   teaches   thinking  skills  through
environmental  activities  and  has become  an environmental
education supplemental text approved  for use in the public
school system.

Role of Environmental Groups in Environmental Education

167. The  non-governmental   environmental  community  has
played   a   tremendously   impressive  role  in  promoting
environmental   education  and  citizen  participation.
Television  series,   resource  guides,   teaching  aids,
information  packets,  and  colourful  pamphlets  have  been
produced on  a great  variety  of subjects.  While  many of
these publications  and efforts  are targeted  at children,
there are  dozens of newsletters, magazines,  and bulletins
which   aim   at  informing  the   adult   population  of
environmental  issues  and arousing  their  concern  towards
environmental degradation.

168. During .my  visits to some  of these  organisations,  I
have picked up a wide variety of  samples of these products
and have subscribed to a number  of their more information-
rich  and  thought-provoking  magazines.    The  Center  for
Environmental  Education   has  some  of   its  children's


publications  translated  into  foreign  languages/   such  as
French  and Spanish.   It will  certainly  be  a good  idea for
educators  and  environmentalists  in  Hong  Kong to expose
themselves  to  these readily  available  materials  and  to
establish regular contacts with environmental groups in the
US in the area of environmental education.  Nonetheless, it
is  important  to  recognise that  environmental  education
materials  must  have  a local flavour:  they  have to address
local concerns and put forward local solutions.

Environmental Education in Hong Kong

169. In my view,  environmental education should be one of
'the major  areas that deserve  a greater  attention  in Hong
Kong.   As  our efforts on  the Clean Hong Kong Campaign have
indicated,  we cannot  achieve  a clean  environment unless
people change their habits to stop littering. Understanding
and  support  of  the  community  is   also  crucial   to  our
implementation  of   policies,   which  sometimes   can  be
unpopular to certain sectors of the population, such as the
Livestock Waste Control Scheme.

170. Environmental education should  start  at  our schools
although it should,  by no  means,  be  confined  there.   Our
environment  will  have  ai  better  chance if children  are
brought  up  to  appreciate  the  conservation  of  natural
resources  and  the importance  of  clean  air,  clean water,
etc.  They can  also  be  a  powerful force in influencing the
habits  of  their parents.   However,  I am not  in  favour of
environmental education being  taught  as  a separate subject
in  schools.    Instead,  it  should   be   infused  into  all
relevant  subjects,  such  as  natural  science  or  health
science  in  the  primary  school  curriculum  or  physics,
geography,  and  social  science  studies  at the  secondary

171. Apart  from  schools  and  environmental  groups,  the
media,  voluntary organisations  such  as  Boy  Scouts,  Girl
Guides, and our district  boards  all  have a  role to play in
promoting   community  awareness  and  citizen  involvement.
Celebration of the World Environment Day in June every year
provides  a  good  occasion  to  spread  the message.    In
addition, I think we should revive the Tree Planting Day in
November.   It would  not be difficult  to  draw  up  a list of
ideas and proposals to promote environmental education, but
it  is  more  important  to  coordinate  our  efforts.    I
therefore recommend that an interdepartmental working group
to be  chaired by  the new Environment and  Planning Branch
should  be   established  to undertake  this task.   Possible
membership  would  include the  Department  of Education, the
Environmental  Protection  Department,  the  City  and  New
Territories Administration,  the Agriculture and Fisheries


Department,   the  Country  Park  Authority,
Information Services Department.
and  the