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Government to consult public on hazardous materials bill

The 45-day public consultation starting tomorrow aims to solve the current difficulty in the management of hazardous materials.

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The government will launch a 45-day public consultation tomorrow on the drafting of a bill regulating the production, storage, transport and use of hazardous materials in the city, with the aim of minimising the safety risk posed by various kinds of hazardous materials, which currently are primarily being stored in industrial buildings across the city.

The drafting of the bill concerns the setting-up of a legal framework system regulating the city’s hazardous materials, which the government says aims to solve the current difficulty of managing these materials as it involves a string of uncoordinated regulations.

A press conference about the public consultation was held on Thursday at the S. Francisco Barracks. The public consultation will end on 8 March. Three public sessions will be held during the consultation period.

Addressing Thursday’s press conference, Secretary for Security Wong Sio Chak noted that in line with Macao’s rapid social development, increasingly more kinds of hazardous materials are being used by the city’s different sectors needed for their respective operations.

“The situation poses a bigger risk to the community’s safety. If an accident involving hazardous materials occurs, the consequences would be disastrous,” Wong said.

Wong said that the 2015 Tianjin explosions involving warehouses for hazardous chemicals were a “stark reminder” for Macao to improve its management of hazardous materials.

Wong noted that through inspections of the city’s various industrial buildings, the Fire Services Bureau (CB) started to set up a database in 2017 containing details on how the city’s various hazardous materials are stored, transported and used, adding that the database now has details about 84 kinds of hazardous materials. The setting-up of the database is part of the government’s work to improve its management on the city’s hazardous materials in the short term, according to Wong.

The drafting of a legal framework regulating the city’s hazardous materials – the topic of the public consultation – is part of the government’s medium-term work to improve the city’s management of hazardous materials, according to Wong.

Wong said that the government’s long-term work to improve its management of hazardous materials is to look for a location for the setting-up of a permanent warehouse for hazardous materials. The government announced last month that it has chosen a remote location in Ka Ho in Coloane – the now-defunct “Desafio Jovem” drug addiction treatment centre – as the location for its permanent hazardous materials warehouse.

According to the website of the Social Welfare Bureau (IAS), the “Desafio Jovem” (“Teen Challenge”) facility in Ka Ho was set up in 1989, after a Portuguese preacher came across the area in Coloane in 1987 complete with a dilapidated house, which he thought would be suitable for a drug rehabilitation centre.

According to an executive order signed by Secretary for Transport and Public Works Raimundo do Rosário and published in the Official Gazette (BO) in August last year, the government annulled the land lease of the plot where “Desafio Jovem “ is located. The facility has not been operating since 2019, according to the executive order.

(The Macau Post Daily/Macao News)
Photo by Government Information Bureau (GCS)

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