Daya Bay radiation claims

PUBLISHED : Monday, 12 February, 1996, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 12 February, 1996, 12:00am

MANAGERS at the Daya Bay nuclear power plant last night said they were seeking more information on a Chinese Government report that artificial nuclear material had been found in marine life in the bay.

A report from Xinhua (the New China News Agency) said the State Bureau of Oceanography had found 'man-made nuclear material in some marine life near the plant', but that the content was very low and would not cause 'visible' effects to the ocean environment.

Xie Zhenhua, the director of China's anti-pollution watchdog, the State Bureau of Environmental Protection, revealed the finding following a separate week-long inspection and investigation tour of the station site, said the report.

However, station manager Pierre Decaix said last night he knew nothing of the findings.

Hong Kong Nuclear Investment senior technical adviser Philippe Mauger said Mr Decaix told him the company managers would 'make inquiries'.

'We have to know the radionuclides [radioactive material] found,' he said.

'We will investigate whether it comes from the plant or not.

'I should think probably not. There are many professionals, especially medical doctors, using radioactive sources,' he said.

But he denied the station manager should know whether the Government was conducting an inspection.

'The agency has its own monitoring devices - it is an independent body.' The Xinhua report said the plant's gas and liquid waste discharged in 1995 were 4.3 per cent and 8.3 per cent of the internationally allowed figure.

Last month, the South China Morning Post reported these levels were several times higher than similar releases in 1994, even though the plant had not been in operation for many months then.

The report did not say what sort of radioactivity had been found in the marine life or in what quantities.

A Department of Health spokesman said it was not prepared to comment or take action until it had seen details of the study.

The Agriculture and Fisheries Department said it did not check fish for radioactive contamination unless there had been reports of leakage at the plant.

But a spokesman said the waters off Daya Bay were not a popular fishing area for mainland or Hong Kong fishermen, who are used to deep sea fishing to find higher-priced seafood.