Daya Bay blast centres set up

RADIATION treatment centres have been set up at two Hong Kong hospitals to cope with casualties in the event of an accident at the Daya Bay nuclear plant, which will be officially opened within the next few days.

Dr Yau Hon-hung, head of Tuen Mun Hospital's accident and emergency department, said the specially-equipped rooms in the Tuen Mun and Pamela Youde Nethersole Hospital would be able to deal with radiation caused by an explosion at the plant.

Dr Yau said: ''Hong Kong citizens and foreign staff working at Daya Bay would have the option of being brought to the territory for treatment following an accident.

''But we would expect the numbers directly affected in this group to be small and so we believe the facilities in place will be sufficient.'' Both hospitals, two of the newest in the territory, were built with the radiation treatment centres next door to the accident and emergency departments.

The centres, which have stood empty since they were built except during training exercises, are divided into contaminated and ''clean'' areas.

Dr Yau said: ''We have to be ready for any accident that may occur at the plant but, of course, we hope the room will never be used.'' Equipment inside the room will constantly monitor the radiation levels of staff and patients.


Those with only minor radiation will be able to wash under a conventional shower inside the room, with the water running off into the ordinary drainage system.

Dr Yau said: ''If the amount of radiation involved is only small it will be sufficiently diluted by the water, but for more serious radiation the water will be collected and treated before disposal.'' For patients suffering severe injuries and radiation a team of specially-trained staff will carry out the decontamination process by washing the victims on special beds in the centre.

Dr Yau added: ''The radiation is invisible and so the washing process would be repeated and the radiation level monitored until the patient had been decontaminated.'' Residents of nearby Ping Chau would also be brought to the centres in the event of the island being evacuated after a nuclear accident, but Dr Yau said the numbers would be small enough for the hospitals to cope.

The Hospital Authority's contingency plan also includes the Queen Elizabeth and Prince of Wales Hospitals which would partition off part of their accident and emergency departments to treat accident victims if necessary.


Eleven authority staff have visited the United States for specialist training in dealing with victims of a nuclear accident, while 300 more doctors and nurses have attended local courses.

Dr Yau said: ''Staff will be advised to wear protective clothing while working in the centre, while they will work in relays if their own radiation levels begin to get too high.'' ''I am confident we can cope with a nuclear accident, but all the time we will be hoping for the best while preparing for the worst.''