Japanese Tsunami 2011

Fukushima mother's nuclear challenge

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 29 February, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 29 February, 2012, 12:00am

A single mother from the radiation-contaminated Japanese city of Fukushima will challenge Hong Kong's three chief executive contenders face to face on issues of nuclear safety and clean energy on Saturday, a green group says.

Through the Fukushima experience, Greenpeace hopes the Hong Kong government will review its emergency plan should a nuclear accident break out at the Daya Bay energy plant in Shenzhen.

'Hong Kong is far less equipped than Japan in coping with such a crisis, given our high population density, weak disaster awareness, and lack of space in the city that offers virtually no room to escape from any radiation,' Greenpeace campaigner Prentice Koo Wai-muk said.

Mother-of-two Kanako Nishikata will discuss how the nuclear disaster in March last year changed her life.

Now a campaigner to protect children from radiation, Nishikata will attend the City University forum on environmental protection. She is expected to question candidates Henry Tang Ying-yen, Leung Chun-ying and Albert Ho Chun-yan.

She led a quiet life until March 11, when an earthquake and ensuing tsunami damaged nuclear power stations near her Fukushima home, causing a radiation leak. Sceptical of the government's actions to contain the leaks, Nishikata chose to flee inland with her children.

Koo said Nishikata was just one among many people whose lives were thrown into uncertainty by the nation's worst nuclear accident.

'Lessons from Fukushima', a report compiled by global experts, showed how unprepared the Japanese government was in handling the emergency, Greenpeace said.

It said Hong Kong might suffer the same experience should a similar accident occur at the Daya Bay nuclear power station, 50 kilometres from urban Hong Kong. Like the Japanese, Koo said, Hong Kong might be overestimating the safety of Daya Bay. 'The decades-old [safety] assessment is bound to be inaccurate now.'

He also called on the government to release computer modelling results on the effects on various parts of Hong Kong of a nuclear accident.

Koo said a plan to help hospital patients, pregnant women or single elderly people should also be drafted. About 570 such people died through negligence in Fukushima, he said.

There was also the question of how to support people told to stay at home for safety reasons. During the Fukushima crisis, the mayor of Minamisoma appealed on YouTube for help for residents told to stay home for more than 10 days.

The Security Bureau said a review of procedures in the event of a nuclear incident was being completed and would be released soon.