Multiple Chinese vessels dumping tons of human waste were spotted in the South China Sea, according to the US-based geospatial imagery company Simularity. The report posted images appearing to show ships over the past five years that were taken by satellites of the European Space Agency.
Liz Derr, the CEO and co-founder of the company, claimed that the result of the dumps can be seen from space.
"When the ships don't move, the poop piles up. The hundreds of ships that are anchored in the Spratlys are dumping raw sewage onto the reefs they are occupying", she said. "This is a catastrophe of epic proportions and we are close to the point of no return".
— Simularity (@simularity) May 14, 2021
She claimed that at least "236 ships" had been spotted in the area, and noted that the growing amount of human waste affects the rise in Chlorophyll-a, which can cause harmful algae activity in the area. According to her, this may result in a rapid decline in fish stock, creating "a dead zone".
— Simularity (@simularity) July 13, 2021
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian called the study a "big joke, accusing Simularity of "fabricating facts, violating professional ethics and spreading rumours about China".
Authorities in the Philippines have vowed to investigate the issue, but Defence Secretary Delfin Lorenzana shared the Chinese spokesman's suspicions about the allegations, saying that "the photo of a ship seen dumping waste accompanying the report was found to have been taken in the Australian Great Barrier Reef in 2014".
Philippine Foreign Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. tweeted the report was "fake".