Invasion of the flies: Hong Kong village swamped by swarms from landfill site

Locals believe the swarms of flies are coming from the nearby landfill - and it's getting worse

PUBLISHED : Monday, 14 October, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 14 October, 2013, 8:59am

What sounds like a scene from a B-grade horror movie has become a frustrating reality for many Tuen Mun residents over the last few days.

Since the start of last week, parts of the town have been swamped by large flies that locals speculate may have come from the nearby landfill at Nim Wan.

At Ha Pak Nai village, just a stone's throw from the city's biggest dump, the South China Morning Post saw swarms of flies yesterday afternoon.

"We've always had pests, but in the last 10 days, it's become very serious. Every time we eat, we have to put out fly traps," said storekeeper Cheng Mei-shing, holding up two sheets of sticky flypaper coated with the dead insects. "Just 25 minutes ago, this piece of paper was all white ... It's like we're competing with them for food now." Cheng said officials carried out pest-control measures there last week, but "none of it has worked".

Village representative Cheng Wai-kwan said the community had seen an increase in pests of all types - including flies, gnats and fleas - in the past few years, and the growing landfill, which lies just across a small river from the village, was to blame. "From just one storey high, the landfill is now more than 10 storeys high. The stench is so bad sometimes, you get a headache," he said, adding there was an invasion of flies 20 years ago due to rotting animal carcasses in the landfill.

The Environmental Protection Department drew fire last month for covering up the scale of effluent leaks from the nearby Ta Kwu Ling landfill, which polluted water in several villages in the area including Ha Pak Nai.

Plans to extend the Tuen Mun and Ta Kwu Ling dumps were deferred in July, after the Tseung Kwan O extension plan was withdrawn amid strong opposition. At Tuen Mun's Butterfly Estate yesterday, there were markedly fewer flies buzzing around compared to the previous week.

Local resident Mrs Chan said she was shocked when she walked into a bakery on Thursday and saw a loaf of bread covered in flies. "It's obvious they have come from the landfill. I hope they build an incinerator and get rid of this dump as soon as possible," she said.

Fishmonger Mrs Leung said there were so many flies in the wet market on Friday, she had to cover her produce with plastic. She added that there were fewer flies in the area since the department sprayed there last week.

Lawmakers were invited to inspect the landfill yesterday, but there were no swarms of flies to be seen there. A department official said it was hard to pinpoint the source of the flies, but no evidence showed they had come from the landfill. But, acting on the department's advice, the contractor said it was conducting pest control at the landfill in stronger doses and more often.

Lawmaker Albert Ho Chun-yan said he was concerned any expansion of the landfill could bring similar and more frequent fly problems to the area.