An $8 million airborne radiation detector is ready to plug a gaping hole in the monitoring system for the Daya Bay nuclear power plant.
At present, atmospheric changes and wind shifts can allow potential radiation leaks to bypass any of Hong Kong's 10 ground-based detectors.
Scientists from the Hong Kong Observatory who have been testing the new system for months said it would be integrated this month into the Security Bureau's contingency plan for dealing with accidents at the plant.
The system is being introduced as a site in Beilung, five kilometres from Daya Bay, is being built to handle low to medium radioactive waste from the plant.
Another nuclear plant in Lingao, within walking distance of Daya Bay, is due to be operational in 2002.
'The new mobile system will be able to monitor radiation levels anywhere in Hong Kong,' Observatory scientific officer Mok Hing-yim said.
The system, equipped with ultra-sensitive sensors, was designed to explore uranium ore deposits in Canada.
The modified version will be mounted on a Government Flying Service helicopter with a satellite-linked global positioning system.
About five regular flights will be made each month to collect data on normal background radiation, which emanates from either the ground or from cosmic rays.
Daya Bay has experienced no radiation leakage outside the plant.