Daya Bay exercise will test emergency links

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 04 May, 1993, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 04 May, 1993, 12:00am

CONTINGENCY plans for a nuclear leak at the Daya Bay power station, 50 kilometres from Hongkong, are to be rehearsed next week by 38 government departments and branches.

Officials will go through a warm-up exercise on Thursday in preparation for the full-scale test.

Two emergency experts from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) will be on hand to monitor the full-scale exercise on Thursday and Friday next week, the second such exercise in three years.

The plan is an updated version of the 1990 scheme to deal with potential emergencies at the mainland nuclear plant.

The 1990 test was also supervised by the IAEA, which found that the number of personnel monitoring the radiation levels was inadequate.

Royal Observatory officials estimated then that the 10-man monitoring team had to be increased to about 30 before it could effectively deal with an emergency that could last up to six days.

A team of inter-departmental specialists has drawn up a scenario this time to test the effectiveness of the Government's overall communications plan and the ability of key personnel to make life-saving decisions.

The Security Branch will co-ordinate the exercises. It involves a ''command post'' to test the communications network, a Security Branch spokesman said.

In the 1990 test, government officials reacted to a huge leak of radioactive gases estimated at 10,000 times greater than that released during the Three Mile Island accident in the United States in 1979.

The scenario involved the possibility that deadly clouds of radioactive gases had been released above the Daya Bay nuclear plant and Hongkong officials were to tackle the problem of protecting the population.

Among the measures taken in the 1990 exercise were the evacuation of Ping Chau's four residents, setting up decontamination centres, closing the land border with China and checking all food and water supplies from the mainland.

A joint contingency plan with Guangdong officials is still on the drawing board. Neither side has agreed to whether Hongkong should have a direct link with the plant in case of a disaster.

A team of IAEA safety experts is expected to arrive in Daya Bay soon to review the plant's operations.