Hong Kong on Wednesday scooped-up 93 tonnes of palm oil and closed 13 beaches after a ship spill washed foul-smelling, Styrofoam-like clumps-ashore.
Dead fish, shells, rocks, plastic bottles and other rubbish could still be found coated with globules of palm oil on beaches across the Chinese-controlled-territory, six days after two vessels collided in the Pearl-River-estuary.
The spill has sparked-outrage among some residents and environmentalists and comes just a year after mountains-of-rubbish washed up on Hong Kong’s beaches, with labels and packaging indicating most of it had come from mainland-China.
The government said late on Tuesday it had collected 93 tonnes of palm oil, most of it congealed, and that the amount of the substance floating in Hong Kong waters was decreasing.
It has closed 13 beaches since Sunday, a day after it said it had been informed of the spill by mainland authorities.
Environmental groups have said that the scale of the spill could have severe ecological consequences, although the government said preliminary tests showed low traces of oil from affected areas.
Media reported that 1,000 tonnes of palm oil spilled into the water after the vessels collided.
The impact on the territory’s marine life, which includes the endangered Chinese white dolphins, also known as pink dolphins, was not immediately clear.
On Pui O beach on Lantau Island, large stinking clumps of congealed palm oil dotted the shoreline, while a formation of rocks popular with children for climbing at one end were coated with the slippery substance.
Hong Kong has sweltered in summer-temperatures of around 33 degrees-Celsius-(91 Fahrenheit) for over a week, with little-relief seen over the next few days, a factor some environmentalists said could exacerbate the problem as it would oxidise the palm oil.
According to conservationists, Hong Kong’s coastal waters and beaches are often strewn with rubbish from mainland China, where some companies discharge waste into the sea to save the cost of proper disposal. (NAN)