Lok On Pai desalination plant [1975-1991]

Submitted by Admin on Sun, 01/06/2013 - 20:56
Current condition
Demolished / No longer exists
Date completed
(Day & Month are approximate.)
Date closed / demolished
(Day & Month are approximate.)

Photos that show this Place



From the wsd.gov.hk website:

1975 The first of the six 30,300 cubic metre-a-day units of the Lok On Pai Desalter came into operation.
1982 Shut down and moth-balling of Lok On Pai Desalting Plant.
1991 Lok On Pai Desalting plant demolished.

Main reason for the closing was the price of oil that shot up in the late 1970's  ("Oil Crisis"). 

The Hong Government's year book Hong Kong 1983 reported that when the desalting plant was in use during 1982, it could produce 182,000 cubic metres of water a day. That gives a theoretical annual output of 66 million cubic metres of drinking water.

The total consumption of drinking water in 1982 was 518 million cubic metres, so the desalting plant could provide over one tenth of that.

My paternal grandmother leased the crown land next to the plant and together with my grandfather operated a shipyard in the 50's (or 60's) to the late 60's/early 70's. They resided on the second floor of a two story building, which was used as the office premises of the shipyard. 

She subsequently became a minority shareholder in a company named Barichon which manufactured reinforced concrete pipes that took over the premises in the early 70's and vacated the premises in the early 90's, after which my grandmother moved to an apartment in Tsim Sha Tsui.

I spent about 3 summers with my grandmother in the early 80's and have fond memories of fishing at the pier, running around the factory premises and eating vegetables and chickens from the vegetable fields next door and the chicken farms on an adjoining hill. 

Part of the desalter facilities may have been demolished in 1991 (I don’t recall) but the main structure was still in use 1991-98 as a logistics transhipment centre to support the movement of materials to the Airport Authority New Airport construction site across the Urmston Channel at Chek Lap Kok 

I remember in 1977 or 78, when I worked in the Industrial Health Division of Labour Department, I visited the plant with a colleague (an industrial hygienist) to assess the working environment of the plant, because of complaints by staff (engineers of the Water Supplies Department) working there who complained of heat stress. It was indeed a hot environment, but as the staff didn't have to stay there throughout their 8-hr working period, we did not support their request to air-con the place. The plant was built by a Japanese company and manned by Japanese technicians, who never complained of heat stress.