HK activists plan anti-nuclear march

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 31 March, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 31 March, 2011, 12:00am

As Japan battles to bring its renegade nuclear reactors under control, other countries are reviewing their own nuclear power plans.

The 9.0-magtitude quake that hit the islands on March 11, and the resultant tsunami damaged one of the country's nuclear reactors.

New readings show a sharp rise in radioactive iodine present in the sea off the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant to 3,355 times the legal limit.

In Hong Kong, a new independent committee formed to monitor the operation and safety of the Daya Bay nuclear plant in Shenzhen will stage an anti-nuclear protest on April 24.

The Daya Bay Public Monitoring Panel, spearheaded by Greenpeace and formed on Tuesday by 13 members including lawmakers and green activists, hopes the parade will raise public awareness of the danger the nuclear plant poses.

Greenpeace campaigner Prentice Koo Wai-muk said on a radio programme yesterday that the committee would monitor the safety performance of the plant by gathering information from the government and the plant.

As soon as the committee found out anything, the information would be immediately disclosed to the public, he said.

He admitted that there was not much the committee could do, but he stressed that because the government had not set up a monitoring watchdog, someone else had to do it.

At the present, Hong Kong gets 23 per cent of its energy from the Daya Bay plant. The rest of the city's energy supply is from coal, at 54 per cent, and natural gas, at 23 per cent.

Koo said the reactors at Daya Bay were only supposed to last for a further 20 years. He hopes the research into renewable energy, such as solar and wind power, will be hastened so that more alternatives are available when decisions have to be made.

He prefers the two renewable energy sources of solar and wind power, rather than natural gas, because natural gas is not totally emission-free.

The search for reliable, clean energy is not an easy one.

Results of University of Hong Kong research, announced in January, show about 1,200 people in Hong Kong die each year from illnesses triggered by air pollution.

In 1986, a reactor at Chernobyl nuclear power plant in the Ukraine exploded. About 30 people died immediately, but thousands contracted cancer later. Hundreds of thousands of people had to flee the area and were resettled elsewhere.