Public disquiet further intensified after the press and public discovered throughout the following months of more and more instances of lead contamination, including in schools and on other premises. However, the plumbing in public estates may be built by a subcontractor. In the case of Kai Ching Estate where the scandal began, the plumbing contractor was the Ho Biu Kei Construction & Engineering Company. The head of Ho Biu Kei responded that the construction materials he used were approved by the authorities, and that his company was only responsible for the plumbing on the outside of the building, not the plumbing in the flats. The interior plumbing comprises prefabricated components manufactured by Shenzhen Hailong Construction Products Co., Ltd., a subsidiary of China State Construction Engineering. SKH St. Thomas’ Primary School in Sham Shui Po, the first case, where test results on potable water were 330% above WHO guidelines was disclosed by Apple Daily on 23 August.
As of the same date, 64 other public housing developments were tested but no excessive lead contamination found. This does not necessarily clear these estates of the possibility of contamination, as the number of tests completed to date varies in each location and the testing has not been exhaustive of each housing block or drinking water tap. Samples of water contaminated with lead have been identified at a range of public and private buildings of various ages, but especially in public housing estates constructed in the past decade.
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In November 2015, main contractors announced that they would pledge $20 million for paying the water bills of 29,000 affected households for about a year. Contractors were required to change all the pipes inside the affected households. The non-compliant water pipes in common areas of 11 affected public estates have been progressively replaced since March 2016, starting with Kwai Yuet House at Lower Ngau Tau Kok Estate on 17 October 2016. In early November, Chief Secretary Carrie Lam announced that households affected by a tainted water would receive rebates of up to HK$660 (US$85) on their water bills. The four main water pipe contractors for the affected estates agreed to install temporary pipes and undertake permanent replacement at a total cost of HK$140 million as a gesture of goodwill. They also agreed to pay HK$20 million in compensation to affected tenants without any admission of responsibility.
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SalaryExpert, powered by ERI, provides verified salary and cost of living data to the public with a comprehensive platform for evaluating compensation, career, relocation, and education decisions. Lead contamination has also affected private residential developments. Property management company Savills Guardian conducted testing at The Caldecott, a luxury estate in Kowloon Tong built in 2004, and found 19 micrograms of lead per litre of water sourced from a kitchen tap. A water sample from The Austin, a newly built luxury development atop Austin station, was found to contain 41 micrograms of lead per litre.