Malaysia, Hong Kong Reject Toxic Waste Shipment
Early this month, Hong Kong authorities ordered a container carrier to return more than 120 containers of suspected toxic waste to their port of origin.
Malaysian media reported that a container vessel carrying 2,700 tonnes of alleged toxic waste departed Constanza, Romania last year. The ship allegedly attempted to unload the containerized waste in Shanghai, Xiamen and Hong Kong, but was unsuccessful.
In late October, the Malaysian paper Oriental Daily received a tip from a Hong Kong source that the waste shipment was headed to Port Klang. Hong Kong environmental authorities also tipped off their Malaysian counterparts, and the Malaysian government said that the ship was prevented from entering territorial waters.
"We got a tip-off from the Hong Kong authorities and I immediately informed the maritime police and other agencies to stop the ship from leaving Hong Kong. The ship did not reach our waters,” said environment minister Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar, speaking to Free Malaysia Today. He said that Hong Kong authorities also refused to allow the containers to be unloaded.
The Basel Convention on hazardous wastes, to which Romania, China and Malaysia are signatories, requires notification, consent and tracking for movements of these materials across borders.
Officials believe that the containers hold a mixture of hazardous substances, including cadmium, arsenic and lead. The South China Morning Post reports that the cargo is made up of "copper matte," an intermediate substance in base metal refining.
Hong Kong authorities have since ordered that the containers of waste be returned to Romania, its country of origin. The rates for Asia-to-Black Sea routes run roughly $1500-2000 per FEU, suggesting a shipping value of $200,000 to return them to Costanza.