Cultists stockpiling dangerous levels of hydrogen peroxide, tests show

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 23 July, 1996, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 23 July, 1996, 12:00am

Church of Zion cultists are stockpiling tanks of illegal hydrogen peroxide with super-pure concentrate levels breaking the Dangerous Goods Ordinance, tests commissioned by the South China Morning Post revealed.

With 40 per cent concentrations of the chemical, traditionally used as a disinfectant, the hydrogen peroxide becomes highly flammable and could explode if ignited.

Chemists told the Post the 40 per cent concentration levels would raise the flash-point to dangerous levels. Domestic hydrogen peroxide available in shops has a three per cent concentration.

Followers of the Fanling-based cult have been told by its leader that hydrogen peroxide taken internally can cure illnesses including cancer and AIDS.

Tests carried out by the Hong Kong Standards and Testing Centre Ltd confirmed that hydrogen peroxide liquid obtained from Church of Zion followers had a 40 per cent concentration.

Hydrogen peroxide powder obtained from the worshippers had a 13 per cent concentration.

The technical officer who performed the test, Jeffrey Lee Psez Cheung, said: 'It is highly concentrated. I accidentally touched the liquid and my skin was oxidised and turned white. It burned and hurt.' According to the Dangerous Goods Ordinance, to process hydrogen peroxide over the exemption requirements without a licence is an offence, a Fire Services Department spokesman said.

The exemption requirement places limits of quantity and concentration. The chemical should not be stored in quantities of more than 25 litres and of strengths of between six and 35 per cent concentration. Over this concentration is illegal in any quantity.

The maximum penalty for contravening the Dangerous Goods Ordinance is a $25,000 fine and six months' jail.