Hundreds protest against hazardous materials warehouses in Coloane, Macau

Hundreds of residents in Coloane’s Seac Pai Van public housing estate protested Sunday against the government’s plan to build warehouses for hazardous materials near their homes.

Hundreds of residents in Coloane’s Seac Pai Van public housing estate protested Sunday against the government’s plan to build warehouses for hazardous materials near their homes.

The protesters urged the government to simply build permanent warehouses for hazardous materials on the land reclamation zone known as Zone El outside Pac On in Taipa as it is currently planning, instead of insisting on pushing ahead with its plan to build temporary warehouses for hazardous materials in Coloane’s Concordia Industrial Park.

Land reclamation zone El is located between the Macau-Taipa Friendship Bridge and the Taipa Ferry Terminal.

The protestors started the demonstration in Praça do Tap Seac at around 3 p.m.

The demonstration ended peacefully outside Government Headquarters in Nam Van, where representatives of the protestors submitted their petition to an official.

Non-establishment lawmakers Sulu Sou Ka Hou, Jose Pereira Coutinho and Ng Kuok Cheong also took part in the demonstration.

According to The Macau Post Daily representatives of the residents told reporters that about 500 people took part in the protest, while the police told the media that about 300 people participated in the demonstration.

Representatives of the protestors told reporters that their sole demand is that the government withdraw its plan to build temporary warehouses for hazardous materials in the Concordia Industrial Park which is near the Seac Pai Van public housing estate. They said that only the cancellation of the warehouse projects would pacify Seac Pai Van residents.

The representatives said that as the government has said that it plans to build permanent warehouses for hazardous materials on land reclamation zone El, it should not build temporary ones expected to be only used for a short time -such as two or three years – near residential buildings.

The representatives also said that only members of major community associations, such as the Macau Federation of Trade Unions (Gung Luen), the Macau General Union of Neighbourhood Associations (Kai Fong) and the Alliance for Common People Building Up Macau (API), were invited to attend briefing sessions held by the government late last month about its overall plan for the setting-up of warehouses for hazardous materials in the city and its safety management of such warehouses, adding that no Seac Pai Van residents opposing the setting-up of warehouses for hazardous materials in the Concordia Industrial Park were invited.

The government’s plan to build two temporary warehouses for hazardous materials on two plots in the Concordia Industrial Park was first made known to the public after the proposed legal development conditions for the two plots on which the government was proposing to build “provisional” warehouses for hazardous materials were discussed during a regular meeting of the government-appointed Urban Planning Council (CPU) on July 18. During July’s meeting of the council, most of the members agreed with the two locations for the setting-up of temporary warehouses for hazardous materials.

In response, about 20 residents from the Seac Pai Van public housing estate first petitioned the government on July 31 against its plan to build the two temporary warehouses for hazardous materials on the two plots in the Concordia Industrial Park area that is near the sprawling public housing estate and other residential buildings in the area.

One of the government’s proposed plots for the storage of hazardous materials is located near the Seac Pai Van public housing estate, luxury residential estate One Oasis, and THE 13 Hotel. The other proposed location, which is next to the Coloane Wastewater Treatment Plant, is relatively further away from residential buildings.

Responding to the residents’ opposition, Chief Executive Fernando Chui Sai On told lawmakers on August 9 during a Q&A session of the legislature that after further study, the government was now proposing to first build a temporary warehouse for hazardous materials close to the waterfront in the Concordia Industrial Park – the plot next to the Coloane Wastewater Treatment Plant – one of the government’s two proposed plots. However, Chui did not specifically mention whether the government has given up the plan of building the temporary warehouses at the other location that is nearer to residential buildings in the area.

During the Q&A session on August 9, Chui also said that “in the medium term” the government would find suitable locations for the construction of permanent warehouses for hazardous materials on land reclamation zone El.

Following Chui’s remarks, hundreds of residents living in the Seac Pai Van public housing estate took part in a rally on August 12 opposing the setting-up of any warehouses for hazardous materials in the Concordia Industrial Park. During the outdoor rally that took place at the massive public housing estate, representatives of the residents said that both of the proposed locations are near residential buildings.

On August 17, the Lands, Public Works and Transport Bureau (DSSOPT) said in a statement that the government will continue to carry out a detailed study concerning the setting-up of the two temporary warehouses for hazardous materials on the two proposed locations in the Concordia Industrial Park.

During Sunday’s demonstration, protestors shouted various slogans such as “Build permanent [hazardous materials] warehouses as soon as possible”, “The Lands, Public Works and Transport Bureau and the Fire Services Bureau are both shirking their responsibilities” and “The convenience of sectors using hazardous materials is given priority over the 40,000 people lives in [Seac Pai Van]”.