Hong Kong authorities warned of water contamination risks at some beaches, particularly those in the Sai Kung area, due to potential leakage from typhoon-damaged sewage treatment facilities.
The Drainage Services Department (DSD) and the Environmental Protection Department (EPD) on Thursday advised the public to be cautious about waters in five beaches as sewage treatment facilities in Sai Kung and in the Southern District of Hong Kong Island were found to have been damaged in the wake of Typhoon Mangkhut.
People should avoid recreational activities, angling or seawater abstraction in potentially affected beaches as the sewage bypass and overflow may lead to temporary deterioration of seawater quality in the vicinity, the government said.
The beaches flagged for potential water quality damage are the Kiu Tsui Beach, Trio Beach and Hap Mun Bay Beach in Sai Kung and the Deep Water Bay Beach and Shek O Beach in Southern District
The five beaches, in fact, have been ordered to be closed until further notice since Monday by the Leisure and Cultural Services Department. Red flags have also been hoisted.
According to the DSD and the EPD, post-Mangkhut inspections by the DSD revealed that the secondary treatment facilities at the Sai Kung Sewage Treatment Works suffered serious damage during Sunday’s typhoon, and therefore only primary sewage treatment service can be provided at the moment.
While the DSD staff immediately conducted repair works since the finding, both departments said it will take some time before the facilities can be restored.
Additional disinfection process has been arranged as a temporary measure for the primary treated sewage to be bypassed for nearshore discharge so as to minimize the impact to nearby waters, they said.
Elsewhere, the DSD found three sections of the rising main used to convey sewage in Southern District were also damaged by Mangkhut and resulted in discharge of waste water.
The affected facilities included a 450mm diameter pipe near Mills & Chung Path, a 150mm diameter pipe near Deep Water Bay Barbecue Area and a 300mm diameter pipe near Tai Tau Chau of Shek O.
The DSD has arranged for emergency repairs and will start replacing the damaged sewers, although repair works are expected not to be completed until three weeks later, the Hong Kong Economic Journal reports.
In a statement, the government said seawater samples had been collected by the EPD staff, for testing, from the beaches at risk of water contamination.
The EPD and the DSD have vowed to continue monitoring the water quality at the beaches and nearby waters.
People who have concerns can check the most current data on beach grades at the EPD websites (www.beachwq.gov.hk or www.epd.gov.hk/epd/beach) or call a hotline at 2511 6666.
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