Plastic spill on beaches- Hong Kong government criticized

Activists on Saturday revealed that hundreds of millions of potentially toxic plastic pellets from containers have washed up on Hong Kong beaches where they lay for almost 2 weeks. These plastic pellets were knocked off from a vessel during Hong Kong’s worst typhoon in 13 years on July 23rd/ 24th, 2012.

150 tonnes of the pellets are estimated to have been spilled on the beaches. Only a third has been cleaned up so far. “It looked like it snowed in east Lamma,” said Gary Stokes, a representative for Sea Shepherd Conservation Society, an international marine life conservation non-profit and another stakeholder in the clean-up operation.

The Hong Kong government has been criticized for its lack of public notice about the spill, almost two weeks after Typhoon Vincente which was upgraded to Signal 10. The government said its marine and environmental protection departments responded immediately after receiving public complaints in the typhoon aftermath. Both departments are working with the ship owner to clean up the spill, they said in a joint email reply. The Environmental Protection Department said water quality had not been affected.

But while they claim the pellets are harmless in their original state, plastic absorbs toxins and pollutants over time and could poison the food chain when marine creatures consume them. Plastic also contains bisphenol-A (BPA), which is an endocrine disruptor known to cause hormone imbalances. BPA has also been linked to cancers in lab animals, and there is some concern that it could also cause cancers in humans.

Click here to read more on how plastics may affect your fertility, as well as the health of you and your children.

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