China May Approve Nuclear Projects After Revising Safety Rules

After the March 11th earthquake in Japan and the subsequent nuclear crisis, China had suspended its development of new nuclear energy projects, but there are reports that the plans to increase China’s nuclear energy capacities have resumed because of China’s growing concerns about greenhouse gas emissions. Reuters Africa reports:

The 2011-2015 nuclear safety plan, which covers rules from reactors to uranium mining, is a prelude to China’s widely anticipated nuclear development plan, which is currently being drafted.

The global nuclear industry is eager to see whether Beijing will adjust its 2020 nuclear capacity targets.

China originally planned to increase its nuclear capacity to over 80 gigawatts by 2020, up from 10.9 gigawatts at the end 2010, but fears about safety standards in the wake of Japan’s nuclear accident forced Beijing to revise the plans.

Beijing has since launched a nationwide inspection of all nuclear sites, including reactors in operation and those under construction, and is drawing up new industry guidelines.

While plans resume, the Ministry of Environmental Protection claims that there will be new safety regulations and other minor changes in the new draft that will be submitted for approval. Business Week adds:

The environmental protection ministry said in a statement on its website Dec. 12 that the new nuclear power safety regulation is ready and a draft would be submitted to the State Council after minor adjustments. The regulation outlines rules and goals for nuclear safety by 2020, the ministry said.

“The central government has its own pace to process the matter,” said Steven Lau, first deputy general manager of Daya Bay Nuclear Power Operations and Management Co. “The new safety standards will be in place for decades to come, so it’s worth taking a longer time to figure everything out.”

China will limit the number of reactors to be built on the coast, the State Oceanic Administration said on April 7. The country, constructing more reactors than any other nation, has at least 14 atomic units in operation, according to data from the World Nuclear Association.

China’s National Nuclear Safety Administration, a department of the environmental protection ministry, will increase the strength of its staff, including inspectors, to more than 1,000 from about 300. The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission has almost 4,000 people overseeing 104 reactors, according to its website.


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