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Press Release 12 July 2016
Dangerous medical waste found at HK's beaches
Large amounts of marine waste washes up at Hong Kongâ€™s beaches regularly, especially during rainy season. Heavy rain fails over the last month has triggered large amounts of waste washing into the seas.
â€œWhat is now needed is an in-depth investigation into the type and source of the waste rather than black bag beach cleaning actions,â€ said Paul Zimmerman.
Paul Zimmerman, CEO of Designing Hong Kong, together with Julia Leung, Program Manager - Education of Plastic Free Seas and Moran Zukerman, a local resident, presented dangerous medical waste found among rubbish collected from a Lantau beach, Sam Pak Wan, since May this year. Many items had definitive markings pointing at locations in the Guangdong Province.
Medical waste collected were for human and veterinarian use (antibiotics and preventative medicine), and many are hazardous and potentially poisonous.
Paul Zimmerman explained: â€œWe sorted and investigated the waste, most of them are vials, syringes, plastic/glass bottles, dialysis bags, medical pills, fully intact glass ampoules. From the brands and simplified Chinese text, it is obviously come from locations in the Guangdong Province. We even found a working pass from a Chinese government transport officer among the waste.â€
Open waste dumps are a long standing problem in Hong Kong and on the Mainland. Exposed waste is subject to flooding and washing out to rivers and seas. Hazardous medical waste poses a health risk as beachgoers could injure and infect themselves by stepping on needles. Moran Zukerman, a local resident who has been living in Hong Kong for over 15 years, expressed his concern: "Medical waste is beyond littering, it's not only harmful to the environment and oceans, but also causes a threat to human beings who consume the fish and many of the medical products shows signs of fish bites who are exposed to those dangerous items, and are eventually consumed by humans."
Julia Leung explained: â€œPlastic Free Seas and Green DB have since 2013 reported the medical waste found on beaches to the Marine Department and the Environmental Protection Department. There were also media reports at that time. It is entirely unclear what investigation has been conducted by the EPD into the sources, and what action have been taken to contact the authorities and medical institutions both in Hong Kong and the Mainland.â€
â€œWe urge the government to seriously investigate the medical waste we found. The items will be sent to the Environmental Protection Department for investigation and follow up action.â€