Low-level Radioactive Waste
Industry and medical and educational institutions in Hong Kong generate small amounts of low-level radioactive waste. Such waste, which produces no detectable heat output and of low radioactive level, mainly comprises smoke detector parts, rayon mantles for kerosene lanterns, luminous watch dials and hands, lightning protection conductor heads, and weakened radiation sources from hospitals and educational institutions. For many years, most of the wastes had been stored in disused tunnels and hospitals.
The Government considers that in the long run the low-level radioactive wastes should be stored in a purpose-built facility. After about two years of construction, the Low-level Radioactive Waste Storage Facility (the Facility) at Siu A Chau, an uninhabited island at southwest of Lantau Island, was successfully commissioned and began its operation in July 2005. The Facility is purpose-built to meet the most stringent international standards for the safe storage and handling of low-level radioactive wastes. Its designed storage capacity is sufficient to accommodate the existing wastes and waste arising in Hong Kong for the next 100 years. It comprises a 55 m long jetty, a shielded waste storage vault, a fully-equipped laboratory, an automatic control room, a wastewater management system and specially-designed waste reception and processing areas. The radiation levels inside and outside the Facility are continuously monitored to ensure the safe operation of the Facility.
In August 2005 and the fourth quarter of 2006, the existing low-level radioactive wastes which had been stored in the disused tunnels, two factories and five hospitals had been transferred to the Facility for safe storage.
A follow-on contract has commenced in January 2016 to maintain the safe operation of the Facility. Taking advantage of improved technology, upgrading to the communication and security systems were included under the follow-on contract with a view to enhancing its operational performance.
Typical examples of low-level radioactive waste in Hong Kong
Luminous Watch Dial
Lightning Protection Conductor Head
The Low-level Radioactive Waste Storage Facility at Siu A Chau