On Dec. 20, a massive landslide destroyed dozens of buildings and killed at least seven people in an industrial park in Shenzhen. At least 70 people are still missing.
As Chinese authorities probe local officials for allowing the waste dump that triggered the tragedy to operate, such illegal operations may also be happening in Hong Kong, Apple Daily reported on Wednesday.
According to the environmental activist group Land Justice League, an area as wide as 1.8 hectares at the Mai Po Inner Deep Bay Ramsar Site, which is located in the northwest New Territories and listed by the government as a site of special scientific interest (SSSI), has suffered from massive waste and mud dumping, with fish ponds having been leveled and part of a mangrove forest cleared.
An on-site inspection conducted by Apple Daily reporters found several dump trucks unloading gravel, mud and other construction waste at Tsim Bei Tsui.
The area used to be inhabited by hundreds of species of egrets before it was turned into a massive mud dump by construction firms.
The reporters noted that many of the workers at the site wore clothes with the logo of China State Construction Engineering (Hong Kong) Ltd.
When they saw the Apple Daily team recording the scene with cameras, they began to flee.
The company did not respond to inquiries from the newspaper.
Lau Hoi-lung, an officer of Land Justice League, said the dumping of construction waste at the site had been increasing since the beginning of the year and once reached as high as 5 meters.
Lau slammed the government for failing monitor illegal activities in the area designated as an SSSI.
The Environmental Protection Department said it will send staff to the site and investigate the case.
Michael Lau Wai-neng, deputy director of the World Wide Fund for Nature – Hong Kong, said part of the affected area belongs to a wetland protected by both the Ramsar Convention, an international treaty for the conservation and sustainable utilization of wetlands, and the Town Planning Ordinance.
As such, dumping mud and other construction waste in the area is illegal, he said.
He estimated that the trees destroyed in the mangrove forest will not be able to grow back over the next eight to 10 years.
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