Yellow Sea drill showcases PLA's biochemical hazard response

First PLA unit for tackling biochemical and nuclear maritime incidents stages exercise

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 15 June, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 15 June, 2013, 3:47am

The People's Liberation Army Navy recently staged a maritime emergency response exercise on how to deal with a biochemical leak in the Yellow Sea, the People's Daily reported yesterday, offering a glimpse of the navy's recently formed nuclear and biochemical hazard response unit.

The emergency response team, established under the PLA North Sea Fleet's submarine unit in 2010, played a major role in monitoring radiation contamination a year later in the aftermath of the Fukushima nuclear plant accident in Japan, the report said.

The team was tasked with drawing up an emergency response plan to deal with possible contamination of China's coast by contaminated water that drained from the Fukushima nuclear plant into the sea. A special unit of the team was sent to survey Chinese seas on a two-month mission that collected more than 10,000 samples, the report said.

The recent drill simulated a chemical leak from a commercial vessel in the Yellow Sea. The report said the response team used advanced equipment to successfully stop the leak, decontaminate the sea area and reclaim all pollutants. The team had formulated an emergency reaction plan after more than three years of learning, practice and training, the paper said.

As the team was the first professional unit designed to deal with nuclear and biochemical accidents in maritime areas near China, it also needed to survey the drainage systems of chemical complexes, nuclear plants and laboratories in coastal cities and provinces, the paper said.

Admiral Fei Horng-po, formerly Taiwan's deputy chief of general staff, said: "It's a must for all armies equipped with nuclear weapons, including the PLA, which has a large number of nuclear-powered submarines, to set up their own … nuclear and biochemical response teams."

Senior Colonel Li Jie , a researcher at the PLA Navy's Military Academy in Beijing, said the PLA's first maritime nuclear and biochemical response team had been set up in the North Sea Fleet because of its strategic location.

"The North Sea Fleet is the PLA's biggest, as it is responsible for the security of the Yellow Sea, which is also the doorstep of our political and economic heartland of Beijing and Tianjin," he said.