Palm Oil Spill Forces Beach Closures in Hong Kong

Palm Oil Spill Forces Beach Closures in Hong Kong”

Hong Kong cleaned up nearly 90 tonnes of palm oil from Lamma Island after a collision between two ships in the Pearl River Delta estuary spilled the substance ashore, Reuters reported.

Debris and refuse from the Chinese mainland often clogs Hong Kong's beaches, but the palm oil is a new and unusual development.

The white blobs of palm oil started showing up on the coast Sunday, mostly on the southern shores of Hong Kong Island and outlying Lamma Island.

The long timelag between the accident in China and the notification of Hong Kong authorities has drawn scrutiny. Their efforts came as the government said around 1,000 tons of the solidified oil had spilled from a cargo ship after a collision with another vessel near the Pearl River estuary in southern China last Thursday. It was the first time authorities had confirmed how much had spilled.

Palm oil is commonly used in food packaging and cosmetics.

Environmentalists worry about the harm the substance could pose to Hong Kong's already polluted waters, and to fish and other animals that eat large amounts of it.

About 90 tonnes have been scooped up the Marine Department and cleansing teams, and they are now working to clean up to 200 tonnes more.

Photographs showed styrofoam-like clumps lining the shores, while the waters at a fishing village popular with tourists were seen covered in oil and rubbish.

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