Ta Kwu Ling villagers blame landfill for 'polluted' stream
Water in the Ta Kwu Ling stream is 'black and muddy' from contamination, residents say
In Ta Kwu Ling, the residents no longer let their children play in the stream that runs through their village, let alone drink from it.
They say the nearby landfill, which is northeast of Sheung Shui near the mainland border, is to blame for the contamination of their stream, which flows into the Ping Yuen River.
The pollution comes from trucks that drive through sewage as they enter and leave the landfill, the villagers say.
Sometimes the water is "black and muddy", and is now used only for irrigation, they say.
The Ta Kwu Ling site, which opened in 1995, is one of three landfills the government wants to expand. Protests have already forced the government to shelve its Tseung Kwan O proposal, while the fate of the Tuen Mun expansion is yet to be decided. Residents there have also put up strong opposition.
But relatively few people live in Ta Kwu Ling, and the plan there has met with the least resistance.
Lau Tsan-hung, 42, has lived in the village since birth. He said they used to swim and fish in the stream. "But after they built a landfill next to us, the water quality started deteriorating," he said. "Now, we don't dare let our children play in it."
Just a few households live in the village, some of them running small farms. Lau said they would let the water sit in a bucket for a few days before using it for their crops, so that all the residue would sink to the bottom.
"But we don't know if eating the crops will have any adverse effect on our health," he said.
Another villager, Lam Yuet-foon, 62, said the stream sometimes gave off a foul smell.
Principal environmental protection officer Lawrence Lau Ming-ching said the department took samples from the stream for testing every month, and the water quality had always been up to standard.
He visited the village yesterday with lawmakers Dr Fernando Cheung Chiu-hung and Frederick Fung Kin-kee.
Lau said sewage from the landfill was sent to a sewage treatment facility via another route, and that any murkiness in the water was unrelated to the landfill. He attributed the muddy colour to deposits of iron in the hills nearby.