An environmentalist has sought medical attention after handling washed up medical syringes during a beach cleanup at Pak Kok on Lamma Island on Sunday.
Robert Lockyer said he received a needle injury to his legs whilst removing polystyrene and plastic marine trash from the beach, just weeks after the Hong Kong government classified it as clean and satisfactory.
“This classification is not only misleading, as it leads people to assume it is safe, but also insatiably wrong. As you can see by these images and many others posted [from] today’s cleanup event, this beach is not only not clean but is a dangerous and potentially a biohazard with the amount of syringes and other sharp objects all along the beach – certainly not something to be proud of, or somewhere to take the kids and family,” he said.
Lockyer told HKFP on Monday that he finds syringes and needles at almost every beach cleanup, but the number was much higher this time. He said he found dozens in just around half an hour, suggesting that they may have originated on Hong Kong Island after being dumped by a “lazy” medical waste contractor.
According to Lockyer, rusty syringes can lead to bloodborne pathogens infections. He underwent a medical checkup following the incident and is due to return in two to three weeks for the blood test results. He has also been advised to receive a follow-up blood test in two to three months. “The wait for the next two-three weeks is tough,” he said.
Lockyer added that he has always reminded past clean-up participants to wear gloves, as well as to use tongs for items they are unsure about.
“I don’t know the solution or what the government should do. But I can see that me cleaning the beaches and picking up them with groups of volunteers is not the solution. It is not sustainable and not really an answer to medical waste issue,” he said, adding medical waste in other countries are usually burned and handled with “utmost care and concern.”
Last July, District Councillor Paul Zimmerman and environmental NGO Plastic Free Seas took medical waste collected over two months to the government, urging them to take action and find the source.