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Small leak at Chinese nuclear plant: HK govt

by Staff Writers
Hong Kong (AFP) June 15, 2010
A nuclear plant in China's southern Guangdong province has recorded a small leak, the Hong Kong government said Tuesday, after the incident was exposed by a US-based radio station.

A small rise in radioactivity was observed on May 23 in a reactor cooling unit of the Daya Bay Nuclear Power Station in Shenzhen, which is run by CLP Power, Hong Kong's largest electricity supplier, the Hong Kong government said.

"Preliminary assessment indicates that there was a very small leakage at a fuel rod," it said in a statement.

"These radio nuclides had been completely quarantined and therefore had no impact on the public."

Daya Bay, located about 50 kilometres (31 miles) north of Hong Kong, is also home to the Ling Ao Nuclear Power Plant.

The incident was revealed after Washington-based Radio Free Asia quoted a "Hong Kong expert source" as saying that the plant's unit experienced an abnormal situation on May 23.

The report also said a large amount of radioactive iodine was released into the air. It said the plant's management had kept the incident secret and only later reported it to authorities in Beijing.

CLP disputed the report and said the leak was so minor it did not fall within an international nuclear rating or warrant immediate notification. But it added that it had reported the incident to state nuclear safety authorities.

The Hong Kong Observatory said its radiation monitoring stations had detected no abnormality since May 23.

Albert Lai, vice chairman of the Civic Party, a Hong Kong pro-democracy group, urged the government and CLP to explain why the public was not informed until the incident was exposed by the media.

"We wonder if the officials and relevant bodies had been notified. We will meet with the government today to demand an explanation for the public," Lai said.

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