I refer to the letter by Colin Robson headlined 'Worried about planned radioactive dump' (South China Morning Post, June 19).
The proposed facility will be used to store low-risk radioactive waste, most of which results from medical treatment and research.
This material cannot be treated or destroyed, and must be stored carefully until its activity diminishes. Storage of low-level radioactive waste is the method endorsed by the appropriate international organisations covering public health and the use of radioactive materials, and has been approved by the Director of Health, who is the authority under the Radiation Ordinance.
The present storage facility is an old air raid tunnel, which is being used as an interim measure. It is regularly monitored to ensure it is safe, but its location on a busy urban street is unsuitable. The new facility has been planned to be in a remote location, where disturbance is unlikely. After a thorough search, Siu A Chau was selected as the most suitable place. The waste stored in the interim facility, as well the small quantity of waste produced each year, will be transferred to the new store.
To ensure that the new store is both safe and does not threaten the environment, we have carried out appropriate assessments. The Environmental Impact and Safety Assessment (EISA) acknowledges that the Soko Islands area should be protected from developments which would damage its ecology and landscape.
To minimise environmental impacts, we have located the Siu A Chau facility on the relatively secluded eastern side of the island, away from the main beach. The facility will be designed as a small passive store and operated as a dry facility with no effluent discharge. External architectural finishes using natural rock outcrops and stone cladding materials will help integrate the facility into the natural setting in which rock outcrops of many sizes already exist.
With the adoption of these measures recommended in the EISA, the marine ecology and natural environment of the Soko Islands will continue to be protected.
Acting Director of Environmental