Radiation fears over new radar device at government office

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 08 January, 2009, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 08 January, 2009, 12:00am

A radar device to be installed on the roof of the North Point Government Offices may pose a health threat because of radiation, say surveyors working in the tower.

The device, to be erected by the Civil Engineering and Development Department, is to help the Marine Department monitor sea conditions.

Lawmaker Patrick Lau Sau-shing said several surveyors working for the Lands Department on the top floors had complained to him about possible radiation emitted by the radar.

'The people working on the top floors of the building are physically the closest to the equipment,' Professor Lau said when raising the issue to the Legislative Council yesterday.

'They are quite worried about their health after learning a radar is to be installed above their heads.'

He urged the government to provide details on the radiation level of the facility.

He also asked whether the government had conducted a thorough consultation in the neighbourhood on the visual impact and possible health threat posed by the equipment.

Secretary for Development Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor, in a written reply to Legco, said the installation was aimed at supplementing an existing one at the old Kai Tak airport.

The North Point device would emit only low amounts of electromagnetic radiation and would have no adverse effect on human health, she said.

'All on-site measurements conducted by [the Civil Engineering and Development Department] indicate that the radiation is far below the standard level established by the International Commission on Non-ionising Radiation Protection.'

The department also published newspaper notices and sent letters to adjacent buildings and Eastern District Council members in July 2007 to gather feedback and inform the public of the facility.

'The rooftop of the North Point Government Offices is confirmed to be the most suitable site taking into account the surveillance coverage, visual intrusion, security ... and other relevant factors,' Mrs Lam said.

According to the government, there are about 30,000 residents within 500 metres of the building.

The radiation emitted from the radar would be directed only towards the waters of Victoria Harbour and would not affect residents and staff, Mrs Lam said.

'Should the radar malfunction, the Vessel Traffic Control Centre will immediately be aware of it and will arrange urgent repairs,' she added.

Eleven similar radars are found across the city, including at Shun Tak Centre, Container Terminal No8 and Kai Tak.