Tons of garbage have been washing up on Hong Kong from the Chinese mainland, prompting the Environmental Protection Department (EPD) to tighten monitoring of beaches and coastal areas.
EPD said it has received reports of serious pollution in Deep Water Bay, Shek O and Po Toi Island, the Hong Kong Economic Journal reports.
Facebook photos of flotsam in Nim Shue Wan and Cheung Sha Beach on Lantau Island have gone viral.
The massive tide of garbage has made world headlines.
It is mostly made up of discarded packaging, plastic bottles, diapers, rubber slippers and tableware, many with Chinese markings.
Sources said the pollutants could only have come from the Chinese mainland
Authorities have given a long beachfront in Discovery Bay a Grade 4 rating, meaning its water has very poor quality and not suitable for swimming.
EPD said more than 64 tons of garbage were collected from affected beaches last week alone.
That is six to 10 times the previous record.
In Discovery Bay, the problem is the worst in recent years, according to an Englishman and long-time resident quoted by Apple Daily.
EPD officials said heavy rain hit several provinces in the mainland in June, including Guangdong, Guangxi, Hunan and Jiangxi.
That might have pushed piled-up garbage into the sea, they said.
But Dr. Lincoln Fok, assistant professor in the Department of Science and Environmental Studies in the Education University of Hong Kong, said the garbage did not appear to be newly discarded.
Also, he said it did not rain in those provinces all that much.
Gary Stokes of environmental group Sea Shepherd Conservation Society said illegal dumpsites in the Pearl River delta might have been responsible for the garbage pile-up.
Ho Kin-chung, dean of the School of Science and Technology in the Open University of Hong Kong, said EPD officials should meet with their mainland counterparts to tackle the problem.
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