Avert Potential Nuclear Crisis in Hong Kong

Hon KP Chan on Motion on Causes for Concern Arising from Earthquake of Japan (Synopsis)

•    The disaster in Japan is natural calamity as well as human fault.  It is man who decides on the construction, the plant, the management and the contingencies of nuclear power.  Casualties and missing persons have surged to over 10,000 to date.  Many more people have lost their homes.  Even more appalling is consequences of radial exposure on generations of Japanese people, and they are hardly measurable.

•    To Hong Kong the real threat is not the Fukushima 3,000 km away but Daiya Bay, Lianao and other nuclear power plants in Guangdong in the vicinity of only 50 km.   According to the nuclear power zoning plan of Guangdong, there will be a total of 33 reactors in the neighbourbood of Hong Kong by 2020.  Among them, Yangjiang nuclear plant is within 200 km radius, located close to an earthquake belt that has records of grades 5 to 6 shocks.

•    Since the Fukushima incident, the SAR Government has not yet made any scientific and systemic analysis on Daiya, Lingao and other nuclear plants and released their safety factors.  For the past 10 years, no local drill on significant accident of nuclear plants has been conducted.  The contingency plan for Daiya Bay is criticized as unprofessional and outdated.  Many people are worried that the populous Hong Kong territory would be “wiped off” in case of disasters in Daiya Bay or Lingao.

•    Opposition to nuclear energy is fully comprehensible.  The Government is increasing the use of nuclear power but not having contingencies to relieve public anxiety.  Every type of energy has its merits and demerits.  We endeavour to reduce carbon emission to fight global warming.  Yet, the alternative of nuclear energy could be even more disastrous in case of catastrophe.  If the opportunity cost of nuclear disasters were taken into consideration, nuclear energy is actually the highest in cost and most uneconomical of all.  In searching for optimal power mix, the Government should always put public safety as prime consideration.

•    The dual paths of energy development for Hong Kong and indeed worldwide are cooperative development of renewable energy and conservation.  In this regard, Hong Kong should step up its cooperation with the Mainland.  Renewable energy is cleaner and safer, and also more sustainable.  Though costlier, it deserves extensive exploration, as there are always social costs for economic benefits.  Available figures show that renewable energy could potentially meet 20 percent of local power demand.  If Hong Kong could promote energy saving and jointly develop renewable energy with Pearl River Delta, there is no imminent need to increase the use of nuclear power.

•    I urge the Government to seriously look into power supply strategy of the territory.  I propose to set up a high level consultation body of specialists to consider energy saving measures and cooperation with the Mainland on development of renewable energy.

•    The Japanese disaster shows that nuclear threat is real.  Hong Kong should be prepared.  In case of mishap, people should know where to go in evacuation, how to protect themselves, and where to get supply of clean water and food.  Large scale drills would help make people familiar with contingencies and in turn reduce casualties.

•    Finally, I send my best wish to earthquake victims in Japan and hope that they would return home not before too long.

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