RADIOACTIVE waste is to remain in a tunnel beneath a Wan Chai school for at least 18 months because plans to move it to a deserted island have been hit by delays. The decision to move the waste to Siu A Chau, south of Lantau, was made two years ago because a tunnel used for storage was deteriorating. The site, near Queen's Road East under Wah Yan College, had to be relined in 1992 after Civil Engineering Department engineers ruled it unsafe. The Geotechnical Engineering Office has been constantly monitoring the tunnel and pronounced it 'stable', according to a government spokesman. It is stacked with metal drums containing radioactive waste generated from the manufacture of luminous watch dials, smoke detectors and other low-level radioactive materials. A $60 million purpose-built store was to have opened early this year to replace the World War II air-raid shelters filled with about 60 cubic metres of waste. But work has been delayed by 18 months. 'We have received objections to the facility's proposed marine access and will need to seek the ruling of the Executive Council,' the spokesman said. 'We have to scrutinise the tenders thoroughly to ensure that a cost-effective and technically sound proposal is selected.' When the Wan Chai tunnels are finally emptied, there will be no greater radioactivity in the area than normal environmental levels, according to the Government. And restrictions on development near the tunnels, due to radiological dangers, are expected to be lifted after the waste has gone. Strict checks have caused costs to spiral for the Hong Kong Tuberculosis Chest and Heart Diseases Association's plans for a $10 million conversion of the Freni Memorial Convalescent Home on a site immediately above the tunnel. Association spokesman Babe Chan Ying-yee said extra monitoring work was required before pile-driving could begin. Ms Chan said she had been assured the tunnel was safe but the Buildings Department had requested extra work which had pushed up costs, delaying the project while the association sought additional funds.