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People's Daily Online>>China Business

Nuclear safety improvement a priority (2)

By Liu Yiyu (China Daily)

10:07, February 22, 2012

"This is an indication of public resistance to nuclear power development," said Xiao Xinjian, industry expert at the Energy Research Institute, which is affiliated with the National Development and Reform Commission.

Following the nuclear leak in Japan after the March 11 earthquake and tsunami, the Chinese government suspended approvals for nuclear power stations. It also conducted rigorous safety checks at all nuclear projects, including those under construction. No new project was approved or started last year.

Earlier, an unidentified official with the National Nuclear Safety Administration, which is under the Ministry of Environmental Protection, told China Daily that regulators might be able to resume approving new nuclear projects during the first half of 2012.

The government might reduce the number of new reactors that can be approved each year from eight to six, industry insiders have said.

Before the Japanese quake, China had planned to increase its nuclear-generation capacity by about 10 gigawatts annually, building eight reactors each year.

Japan's former prime minister Naoto Kan acknowledged recently that the crippled Fukushima plant should not have been built so close to the ocean on a tsunami-prone coast.

The disaster disclosed even bigger man-made vulnerabilities in Japan's nuclear industry, from inadequate safety guidelines to crisis management, all of which he said need to be overhauled.

China had six new projects approved before the Japanese disaster, and construction on all of them was suspended over safety concerns. China has 11.3 gW of nuclear capacity and plans to increase that to 80 gW by 2020, exceeding an earlier target of 60 to 70 gW.

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