Oil sludge closes beach at Repulse Bay

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 29 July, 2010, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 29 July, 2010, 12:00am

Officials are trying to track the source of an oil slick that left sludge on Repulse Bay beach yesterday.

The Marine Department says preliminary investigations show the oil did not originate from land, but so far officers have drawn a blank. However, they say it is not connected to an oil spill off Tuen Mun on Sunday.

The beach on Hong Kong Island, which is popular with both locals and tourists, was closed for a clean-up by the Leisure and Cultural Services Department.

It was not known last night if it would be reopened today.

The department was alerted at about 9am yesterday to a large patch of oil that was floating off Round Island, which is about two kilometres south of the beach.

The oil - which marine officials described as a 'rainbow-coloured oil sheen' - then gradually began drifting towards Repulse Bay. It started to hit the shoreline at about 12.40pm.

A thick layer of oil was also spotted in a corner of the sea just off the Kwun Yam shrine on the beach.

A spokesman for the Marine Department said the size of the oil patch had shrunk to 100 metres by 50 metres by the time it reached the beach.

'We deployed a contractor to use a water jet to disperse the oil,' he said, adding that no chemicals were used to dissolve the oil.

He said it was uncertain what type of oil it was but it was likely to be fuel oil.

Samples were collected to determine the properties of the oil.

He said even with a good analysis of the oil, the chance of locating the source was slim.

The spokesman said the latest incident did not have anything to do with the oil spill in Tuen Mun, which also forced the closure of Cafeteria New Beach and Golden Beach on Sunday.

The Environmental Protection Department said their officers had established that the spill at Repulse Bay did not originate from land.