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Lead-tainted water found at new housing estate

2018-07-18 HKT 13:49
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  • Lead-tainted water found at new housing estate
Richard Pyne reports
The Democratic Party warned on Wednesday that it has found excessive levels of lead in tap supplies at a new residential development in Kwai Fong, as it accused the government of "learning nothing" over the contaminated water scare at around a dozen public housing estates three years ago.

The party said on Wednesday that it had tested supplies at the Kwai Tsui public housing estate after some residents complained about their tap water coming out white and cloudy.

One sample collected showed concentrations of lead at 104 microgrammes per litre, the party said, more than 10 times the World Health Organisation’s guideline of 10 microgrammes per litre.

Samples from three other units at the estate had a lead content of between 10 and 16 microgrammes.

The Democratic Party's Ng Kim-sing, a Kwai Tsing district councillor, said fortunately the problem has been discovered before most future residents of the new estate have moved in.

But he slammed the government for failing to prevent a re-occurrence of the 2015 scare. "In terms of the suffering of the residents ... I think the government has learnt nothing," Ng said.

Democratic Party lawmaker Helena Wong said the Water Supplies Department improved its water safety plan after she exposed lead contamination at 11 public housing estates in 2015. But she said this latest scare may reveal loopholes or gaps in the monitoring system.

"If the water workers didn't comply, that would also trigger the lead in water issues. So it is not just whether they used soldering materials which are free of lead, there may be other factors that can trigger heavy metals in the pipelines, including metals sticking inside the pipelines," Wong said.

The legislator said officials have been in touch with her party to say they plan to carry out their own tests. She said she hopes there will be a thorough investigation and that residents will be kept up to date.

Kwai Tsui Estate only started taking in residents in April. It will eventually house about 2,400 tenants in its 866 units.