Risk of radioactive particles in HK 'tiny'

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 20 March, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 20 March, 2011, 12:00am

A Hong Kong Observatory assistant director yesterday reassured the public that radioactive particles released in the explosions at a Japanese nuclear plant would have very little effect on Hong Kong.

Leung Wing-mo also expressed sadness at the unedifying spectacle of fellow Hongkongers panic-buying salt.

Leung told a public forum at the Science Museum yesterday that the prevailing winds over Japan were from west to east and so any radioactive material would be carried to the Pacific Ocean. The chances of any reaching Hong Kong were minimal. 'Even if they do, the particles would be very scattered and radioactivity diluted,' he said.

Leung said the earthquake and tsunami that struck northeastern Japan, damaging the Fukushima nuclear plant and triggering the explosions there, would only cause the Hong Kong public inconvenience, such as a shortage of Japanese milk powder and cancellation of holiday tours, rather than real harm.

'I feel very sad seeing Hongkongers rushing around for salt. Such behaviour was nothing to be proud of as a Hongkonger,' he said.

Even if the Fukushima nuclear disaster was as bad as the 1986 meltdown at the Chernobyl plant in the Ukraine - something experts have ruled out - the effect on Hong Kong would be very small, he said. 'The Fukushima case would have even less effect on us [than Chernobyl], as the wind is not blowing this way.'

Radiation levels in Hong Kong went up by 1 per cent for a few days after the Chernobyl accident, the world's worst nuclear disaster, but they soon returned to normal, he said.