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China to bring third generation nuclear reactors to service next year

(Xinhua)

09:14, January 15, 2012

BEIJING, Jan. 15 (Xinhua) -- Though hindered by the Japan nuclear crisis, China's first AP1000 nuclear power reactor is expected to come into operation by the scheduled time of 2013, a Chinese nuclear company executive said here Saturday.

Wang Binghua, board chairman of the State Nuclear Power Technology Corporation (SNPTC), said construction progress of the country's third-generation nuclear reactors is generally "under control".

The country started to construct its first third-generation pressurized water reactors in 2009, which were also the world's first to use AP1000 technologies developed by U.S.-based Westinghouse.

Construction progress has slowed down after a massive earthquake and tsunami caused devastation and sparked a nuclear power crisis in Japan last March, causing delays of six to twelve months for the reactors under construction in China's coastal areas, according to Wang.

Wang also attributed the delays to Westinghouse's design adjustments during construction and a stricter construction requirement for endurance concerns.

It has also taken more time for the construction and management staff to adapt to the construction methods of third-generation reactors, he added.

But Wang said with optimized construction schedule and enhanced supervision over equipment, he was confident to bring the No.1 Unit of the Sanmen Nuclear Power Project in China's east Zhejiang Province, one of the reactors under construction, into operation in 2013.

Wang also noted that designers of the projects have strengthened safety evaluation after the Japan crisis.

"Both the SNPTC and Westinghouse has agreed that the new reactors are able to survive the same shock experienced by the Japanese plant," he said. The two companies are still mulling over further efforts to ensure nuclear safety.

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