Daya Bay drill to test safety plans
Overseas experts and International Atomic Energy Agency officials will observe a two-day drill next week - the first in 15 years - to test the city's emergency procedures for a nuclear accident at Daya Bay.
More than 1,000 officers from 30 government departments will take part in the drill on Thursday and Friday, based on the revised contingency plan for Daya Bay. The emergency drill is the first to be conducted since the plan was revised after the Fukushima nuclear crisis in Japan last year. The last drill was in November 1996.
While organisers are keeping the drill's exact scenario under wraps, officials assume it will involve a serious off-site accident to test the response capability of various parties in handling the emergency.
According to the revised contingency plan, people living within 20 kilometres of the Daya Bay plant will be evacuated in a serious accident.
As far as Hong Kong is concerned, that would affect only a few residents and tourists on Tung Ping Chau, on the far side of Mirs Bay.
An 85 kilometre emergency control zone, including Hong Kong, would be set up for food monitoring.
Experts from France, Britain and the mainland's nuclear safety regulators have been invited to observe the drill, along with officials from the International Atomic Energy Agency.
They will help local experts evaluate the effectiveness of the drill and make recommendations.
'The government will assess the outcome of the exercise and identify lessons learned,' a Security Bureau spokesman said.
The bureau said it would continue to pay attention to emerging nuclear safety standards and revise the contingency plan where necessary.
Edwin Lai Sau-tak, assistant director of the Hong Kong Observatory - one of the first organisations to learn of a nuclear accident - said it would be carrying out its business as usual in the run-up to the drill.
'We are the first point of contact in the contingency plan, but we don't know who will be contacting us or when,' he said. 'We also don't know the drill scenario.'
Like the Fukushima power plant, the Daya Bay plant is located at sea level by the ocean, making it potentially vulnerable to maritime natural disasters such as tsunamis and storm surges from powerful typhoons.
The magnitude of the Shantou earthquake of 1918, which started 300 kilometres away from Hong Kong in Guangdong province