Piles of medical waste have continued to wash ashore at a beach on Lantau Island despite a government pledge to ensure Hong Kong coastlines are kept free from rubbish floating over from mainland China. Moran Zukerman, a local resident in Discovery Bay, has collected close to 400 used and unused syringes, some with the needles still attached, since July at Sam Pak Wan, a beach nestled in the bay next to the Disneyland amusement park. Along with more than 200 drug phials, medicine bottles and packets of pills, Zukerman and NGO Plastic Free Seas also found one test tube and syringe filled with what was suspected to be human blood. Campaigners hand government medical waste washed ashore in Hong Kong, in call for action “If a child steps on the syringe with bare feet, not only could they get a needle stick injury, but there also is potential for an infectious disease as well,” Tracey Read, chief executive of Plastic Free Seas, said. “We want to prevent this from happening. It’s a serious problem and the government needs to take action,” Read said. Read suspected a significant portion of the rubbish had washed up onto the beach from mainland locations as packages were printed with simplified Chinese characters. Some medicine packets however were from local clinics, with doctor and patient names written on the labels. The group also found bite marks from fish on plastic medicine bottles, which would also pose a risk to marine life if they consumed the medicine inside, Read said. In July, images of beaches littered with a deluge of rubbish went viral on social media. The waste was reportedly flushed out to sea from unusually heavy rain and flooding in the Pearl River Delta. Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying personally took part in a beach clean-up and said he would ask Guangdong authorities to follow up on the issue. It’s a serious problem and the government needs to take action Tracey Read, chief executive of Plastic Free Seas Zukerman and Southern district councillor Paul Zimmerman previously handed more than 200 syringes and phials collected between May and July to the Environmental Protection Department, but they have not received any response. In response to media inquiries, the EPD said it would conduct a “thorough investigation on their nature and origin to decide on the necessary follow-up action”. A department representative said the waste submitted by the group earlier in July was brought to the coast by the current, according to its initial findings. However, it said they were unable to determine the source of the rubbish as most of the items were not labelled or could not be used for detailed analysis. It added that 90 per cent of the 300 submitted items were unidentifiable or non-medical waste. The EPD said it had found no evidence of illegal dumping of medical waste after conducting several spot inspections at clinics near Discovery Bay and looking through their disposal records since July. An EPD investigation report in April last year found medical waste accounted for 0.3 per cent of marine refuse, and considered it a “limited” problem. The Post contacted a local clinic whose packaging was among the items Zukerman collected. A clinic nurse said they were unaware of the incident as they had outsourced their disposals to Fai In Environmental Service, a licensed clinical waste collector. She said the company comes once a month to collect potentially hazardous waste, while they send expired drugs back to pharmaceutical companies for recycling. Chemical waste allegedly found stored in nine Hong Kong recycling sites without approval Fai In Environmental Service could not be reached for comment. Improper disposal of medical waste is illegal in Hong Kong. There are seven licensed clinical waste collectors approved by the EPD to handle waste from all the city’s hospitals and clinics. Collectors are required to deliver the clinical waste to a licensed disposal facility within 24 hours after collection. The waste is then destroyed at an incinerator at the Chemical Waste Treatment Centre in Tsing Yi.