Hong Kong Asbestos Ban by 2012?
In April 2011, Hong Kong's Environmental Protection Department (EPD) discussed a proposal to ban the use of all forms of asbestos. The briefing document (Proposal for Banning All Forms of Asbestos) considered by the EPD's Legislative Council highlighted Hong Kong protocols to minimize contamination caused by demolition and disposal activities as well as regulations already in place which restrict the import, export, manufacture and use of crocidolite and amosite asbestos; the import and processing of chrysotile (white) asbestos remains unregulated. According to this paper, Hong Kong's chrysotile imports decreased from 577 tonnes in 1996 to 35 tonnes in 2010. Despite the fall in consumption, asbestos-containing friction and roofing materials are still being used. lka-raising-asbestos-awareness-indonesia.phpIt has been estimated that thousands of buildings in Hong Kong are riddled with asbestos. Construction and demolition workers are amongst those categories at high risk of hazardous occupational exposures.1
Recommendations made to the EPD Council included:
The EPD has already commenced a consultation exercise with stakeholders on the controls being proposed (see: Consultation document) which seeks to ascertain:
the community's views on a proposal for extending the current ban on import and sale of brown and blue asbestos under section 80 of the Air Pollution Control Ordinance (APCO) (Cap.311) to all the remaining forms of asbestos, including white asbestos, and banning the supply and new use of all forms of asbestos.
Civil society efforts to ban asbestos in Hong Kong have been progressed by the Hong Kong Workers' Health Centre which has been campaigning for an asbestos ban for several years. Lobbying for this objective has also been undertaken by the umbrella group No More Asbestos in Hong Kong Alliance (NMAHKA) which is made up of representatives from: the Association for the Rights of Industrial Accident Victims, the Hong Kong Confederation of Trade Unions, Neighborhood & Workers Service Center, the Hong Kong Catholic Commission for Labour Affairs, Construction Site Workers General Union and the Asia Monitor Resource Center. Actions taken by this coalition, including meetings last year (2010) with EPD staff at the Asbestos Administration Committee and Environment Bureau, have been instrumental in raising awareness of the ban asbestos campaign.
April 20, 2011
1 The Government fails to respond to the questions of monitoring the demolishing (of) asbestos-containing collapsed buildings on Ma Tau Wai Road. Hong Kong Workers' Health Centre (HKWHC) Occupational Health. Issue 149, December 10, 2010. Pages 4-5. See: online pdf version of Issue 149