Radiation Tidbits - How safe are the nuclear power stations at Daya Bay?
Written by: LEUNG Wai-hung
The Guangdong Nuclear Power Station (GNPS) and Lingao Nuclear Power Station (LNPS) are located at Daya Bay, about 50 km away from the urban areas of Hong Kong (Figure 1). The design and operation of the stations are strictly in accordance with international safety standards. The risk of any serious nuclear accidents that may affect Hong Kong is extremely low.
Figure 1 Location of the Guangdong Nuclear Power Station (GNPS)
and Lingao Nuclear Power Station (LNPS)
(Source of background map: Google Maps)
The GNPS and LNPS have pressurised water reactors with multiple safety design features. Each reactor has been built with three separate protective barriers, i.e. fuel rod cladding, reactor pressure vessel and containment building, to prevent the escape of any radioactive material due to accidents at the stations.
According to the information published by the Hong Kong Nuclear Investment Company Limited, all abnormal events that occurred at the GNPS during the past ten years were classified as level one or level zero based on the International Nuclear and Radiological Event Scale of the International Atomic Energy Agency. This means that they are of no safety consequence or no safety significance. Furthermore, the number of abnormal events in recent years was getting less (Figure 2).
Figure 2 The number of abnormal events that occurred at the GNPS from 2001 to 2010
(Source: The Hong Kong Nuclear Investment Company Limited website)