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Progress of cleaning up palm stearin
     The Government today (August 16) continued to clean up the palm stearin on the sea surface and at the beaches.
     From the inspections conducted today, gradual improvement in situation was observed. The oil content of water samples collected from beaches concerned also remained at a low level. Having considered factors such as water quality and cleanup progress, the Leisure and Cultural Services Department (LCSD) announced this afternoon the reopening of another three beaches in Southern District, namely Repulse Bay Beach, Deep Water Bay Beach and Chung Hom Kok Beach subsequent to the reopening of eight beaches earlier (namely Upper Cheung Sha Beach, Lower Cheung Sha Beach, Tong Fuk Beach and Pui O Beach in Islands District, as well as Middle Bay Beach, South Bay Beach, Turtle Cove Beach and St Stephen’s Beach in Southern District). The LCSD will continue to conduct routine cleanup at the eleven beaches which have been reopened. However, there might still be trace amount of palm stearin pellets remained in the sand. The LCSD reminded swimmers to stay alert when using the re-opened beaches, not to play with or take in palm stearin, and to rinse their feet before entering changing rooms to avoid slippery caused by the palm stearin stuck. The government departments will continue to monitor the situation and enhance cleanup of palm stearin, with a view to reopening the remaining beaches concerned as soon as possible.
     The Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department (AFCD) did not find any mariculturist being affected by the incident so far. No palm stearin was found at fish culture zones or in their vicinity today. The oil boom deployed at Lo Tik Wan fish culture zone kept preventing palm stearin from entering the fish culture zone. In addition, while the Cape D'Aguilar Marine Reserve and the nesting site of Green Turtles in Sham Wan on Lamma Island have by and large been cleaned up after the cleaning work in the past few days, the AFCD and relevant departments will maintain their cleanup efforts so as to remove the palm stearin possibly remaining at the sites. The AFCD will continue to monitor the impact on the fishing industry and the marine environment, especially that of waters with important ecological value.
     The Marine Department, the LCSD, the Food and Environmental Hygiene Department, the AFCD and the Environmental Protection Department (EPD) deployed around 150 staff members in total for conducting inspections and cleanup today to tackle with this palm stearin leakage incident. As at noon today, the government departments collected some 211 tonnes (i.e. 211 000 kilograms) of palm stearin recovered on the sea surface and at the beaches.
     In addition, the collected palm stearin which is mixed with marine or land refuse will decay easily under a damp environment. To avoid the easily rot and stink palm stearin from causing environmental hygiene problems and to minimise the burden on landfills as far as practicable, the EPD earlier approached two local biodiesel companies for them to collect the recyclable palm stearin recovered and turn it into biodiesel or other recycled commodities the soonest possible. The EPD has not entered into agreement with any company for this ad-hoc arrangement.
Ends/Wednesday, August 16, 2017
Issued at HKT 20:34
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