USEN inspects beaches affected by palm oil on Lamma Island

Hong Kong (HKSAR) -      The Under Secretary for the Environment, Mr Tse Chin-wan, inspected two beaches affected by palm oil on Lamma Island (Hung Shing Yeh Beach and Nga Kau Wan) this morning (August 8), with the accompany of representatives from relevant departments. He was also briefed on the progress of their cleaning work.
     Mr Tse said that the Marine Department (MD), the Leisure and Cultural Services Department (LCSD), the Food and Environmental Hygiene Department (FEHD), and the Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department (AFCD) had, upon receipt of report last Saturday (August 5), immediately deployed additional vessels and increased manpower for cleaning up the palm oil recovered on the sea surface and at the beaches in a speedy and effective manner. While the LCSD announced closure of Turtle Cove Beach and Deep Water Bay Beach today for the sake of safety, the overall amount of palm oil floating in Hong Kong waters was gradually decreasing.

The Government departments will continue to strive for cleaning up the remaining palm oil as soon as possible, with a view to minimising the impact on the environment and public.
     The MD has been in close contact with relevant Guangdong authorities regarding the earlier vessel collision in the Pearl River Estuary and was given to understand that the Mainland Maritime authorities had successfully contained the leakage at source. Palm oil floating on the sea surface was getting less and the situation had largely been under control. The MD will continue to maintain close liaison with the Guangdong authorities on a daily basis before the incident has come to a close.
     To step up cleaning efforts, all relevant departments will sustain enhanced monitoring and continue to deploy manpower and equipment for speeding up the cleanup of palm oil discovered at major sites, so as to minimise the impact on the environment.
     The Environmental Protection Department (EPD) will continue to conduct joint aerial surveillance of the situation of Hong Kong waters with the Government Flying Service on a daily basis, until significant improvement is seen.

If suspected affected locations are identified, relevant departments will be notified immediately for arranging prompt cleanup. As observed from the aerial surveillance conducted today, the amount of palm oil floating on the sea surface in the vicinity of Hong Kong Island, Lamma Island and South Lantau reduced significantly as compared to the observation yesterday (August 7).
     Regarding the public’s concern on the impact on water quality, the EPD has been collecting water samples from the affected beaches for testing their oil content in the past few days. According to the latest testing results available today, the oil content of the samples remained at a low level.

In particular, the oil content of more than 90 per cent of the samples was found to be lower than the detection limit. The EPD will keep collecting samples from the beaches concerned every day for testing, and will recommend re-opening of the beaches concerned by phases for the LCSD’s consideration when the water quality is confirmed safe.
     The AFCD also continued to arrange its staff to inspect the fish culture zones in Lantau, Lamma Island, Po Toi and Ma Wan to communicate with the mariculturists. The small amount of palm oil found in Lo Tik Wan fish culture zone and waters near Po Toi yesterday was properly cleaned up by the MD.

No mariculturist was found to be affected by the incident so far.  The AFCD will continue to monitor the impact on the fishing industry and the marine environment, especially that of waters with important ecological value such as marine parks.
     The FEHD and the LCSD also continued to conduct cleanup operations for areas under their respective purviews. As at 12 noon today, the relevant departments collected some 93 tonnes of palm oil recovered on the sea surface and at the beaches.

Published on: 2017-08-08

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