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How long can China’s nuclear industry stay “safe”?

safety-symbol-Smflag-ChinaChinese nuclear disaster ‘highly probable’ by 2030 The Ecologist, He Zuoxiu 25th October 2013  “……But if China sticks to plans to build another 30 third-generation power stations between 2015 and 2020, the risks rocket. No AP1000 reactors – one of the key third-generation designs – have yet been built anywhere in the world, meaning there are no reactor-years of experience. Only the figures of 267 reactor-years from Three Mile Island’s 267 reactor years and Chernobyl’s 162 reactor-years can be used as reference.

Even if we take the larger of those numbers, that brings the “most probable” period for a nuclear accident in China forward to between 2020 and 2030.

Some may say that “theoretically” third-generation reactors are safer than their second-generation equivalents. In fact, these 30 nuclear power plants will use reactors that have not been operationally tested. They are all being built inland and all face problems with water supply. Several third-generation plants, including Pengze in Jiangxi and Taohuajiang in Hunan, each with six reactors, cheated during the environmental impact assessment process, with no action taken by the National Nuclear Safety Administration.

For safety’s sake, it would be better to stop at 41 reactors, a number due to be reached in 2015. The Great Leap Forward mentality

Why did the US and former Soviet Union see nuclear accidents so soon? Apart from a lack of experience and immature technology, another factor was the Cold War mentality – both were fighting to be the world’s number one nuclear power.

Similar attitudes exist in China today. Nuclear decision-makers aim to build up to 500 nuclear power stations by 2050, exceeding the current global total of 443, and allowing the country to claim the world’s number one spot.

This is nothing but Great Leap Forward thinking. If these attitudes continue, we will likely see “most probable” will become the “actual”.

This article was first published by China Dialogue under a Creative Commons “Some Rights Reserved” licence.


October 29, 2013 - Posted by | China, safety

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