HONG KONG — Twenty five years ago a million people here signed a petition opposing a plan to build a nuclear power station with two reactors a few miles across the China border to provide power for Hong Kong and Guangdong Province. Some eminent citizens promised to emigrate if the plant was built.
But built it was and they had to eat their words. Operating since 1993, it has since attracted little attention from the Hong Kong people even though it sits by the sea, close to a fault line.
In fact, many people today wish that much more of the territory’s power would come from nuclear sources, which currently account for only about 15 percent of local consumption, rather than from the coal-fired stations, which contribute a great deal to Hong Kong’s serious air-pollution problem.
Premature deaths in Hong Kong caused by air pollution are now estimated at around 2,800 a year, and the air causes 90,000 hospitalizations a year. Air pollution has also driven away businesses to cleaner cities like Singapore, Sydney and, indeed, Tokyo.
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