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The News That Matters about the Nuclear Industry

China’s aggressive nuclear marketing is causing it some problems

Buy-China-nukes-1Ambitious Nuclear Expansion Is Causing Problems For China. Oil Price, By Irina Slav – Aug 29, 2016, China General Nuclear Power Corp. has been indicted by the FBI on allegations that it has been trying to illegally acquire nuclear technology secrets from its U.S. consultants. According to the indictment, the country has been working with said consultants for years – and has been pressuring them into handing over sensitive trade information – pursuing Beijing’s international nuclear expansion ambitions.

Last month, Britain’s PM Theresa May postponed the go-ahead for the construction of the country’s biggest NPP in several decades, Hinckley Point, citing concerns about Chinese interference in British national security. The Chinese company behind Hinckley Point is China General Nuclear Power Corp.

These two cases have highlighted China’s growing ambitions in the nuclear field – not just domestic but international. They have also highlighted the inherent suspicion that Western governments feel towards China. In the case with the U.S. consultants, it’s very likely that the charges are legitimate, despite CGNP issuing a statement that said it “always sticks to the principle of following laws and regulations.”……

China has very aggressive international nuclear ambitions. The country’s state-owned nuclear power companies have been working with international leaders such as France’s Areva and EDF, and Westinghouse, on developing its own nuclear reactor that Beijing hopes to start exporting on a large scale.

The reactor in question is Hualong One, and it has been exported to two countries to date, Pakistan and Argentina. Both deals include financing for the construction of the power plants from Chinese sources, which is the model China used to get into road construction and other infrastructure in Africa an the Middle East, AP notes.

CGNP’s investment in the $24-billion Hinckley Point is yet another aspect of China’s international nuclear ambitions. Experts, however, are wary of the success of this ambition. Many warn that China has yet to win the trust of its potential clients – even though no Chinese nuclear plant has so far made headlines by causing a disaster, general sentiment towards nuclear energy is suspicious, and as a result, safety standards are very stringent. In addition to this stringency, they also vary from country to country, so Chinese reactor builders will have to be very flexible in their offer if they want to convince their potential clients to become actual ones.

What’s more, this market is extremely competitive, and there are clear global leaders, such as the aforementioned French and U.S. companies. These companies have the experience, the track record, and the reputation that ensure their place at the top. China lacks all of these, so pushing into the international nuclear reactor market may prove difficult.

Still, it has enough to do at home, with 20 reactors in construction and more planned in order to raise the country’s nuclear generation capacity to at least 58 GWe over the next five to six years, and further to 150 GWe by 2030……http://oilprice.com/Energy/Energy-General/Ambitious-Nuclear-Expansion-Is-Causing-Problems-For-China.html

August 31, 2016 Posted by | China, marketing | Leave a comment

China marketing nuclear reactors to Saudi Arabia

Buy-China-nukes-1China nuclear developer, Saudi’s Falih meet on nuclear cooperation By Reuters | Aug 30, 2016,BEIJING: China’s leading state nuclear project developer China National Nuclear Corp (CNNC) said it met on Monday with Saudi energy minister Khalid Al-Falih to discuss cooperation in the nuclear power sector.

Beijing is embarking on an ambitious plan to export its locally developed nuclear technology as well as its equipment manufacturing capacity, potentially worth billions of dollars.

CNNC chairman Sun Qin told Al-Falih that China is ready to cooperate fully with Saudi Arabia over nuclear power, according to a short statement posted on the CNNC website late on Monday.

The statement said the Saudi energy ministry welcomed CNNC in expanding its business in the kingdom, including research and development of nuclear technology, uranium mining and the building of nuclear power stations, but gave no further details.  The two countries signed a memorandum of understanding on training nuclear personnel, the statement said. http://economictimes.indiatimes.com/articleshow/53924844.cms?utm_source=contentofinterest&utm_medium=text&utm_campaign=cppst

August 31, 2016 Posted by | China, marketing, Saudi Arabia | Leave a comment

China’s glaciers- the “third pole” are losing ice mass

How air pollution is causing the world’s ‘Third Pole’ to melt https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/energy-environment/wp/2016/08/24/how-air-pollution-is-causing-the-worlds-third-pole-to-melt/?utm_term=.2da2fe69b67f   By Chelsea Harvey August 24 In discussions about melting glaciers, most people think immediately of the vast ice sheets in Greenland and Antarctica. But there’s another, less talked-about ice-filled region on Earth that’s also experiencing dramatic melt, with millions of humans’ livelihoods and water supply at stake.  
glaciers Himalayas
The snow-covered Himalaya-Hindu Kush mountains and the Tibetan Plateau, spanning a broad area in Central and East Asia, together contain the largest ice mass on the planet outside of the polar regions. In fact, it’s earned itself the nickname of the “Third Pole.” But as in Greenland and Antarctica, there’s trouble afoot: Glaciers in the Third Pole are also shrinking.

According to remote sensing data collected and analyzed by the Chinese Academy of Sciences, about 18 percent of China’s glaciers alone have disappeared over the past 50 years. And that’s a big problem because meltwater from these glaciers feeds a network of rivers that supply water, directly or indirectly, to more than a billion people downstream.

Rising temperatures, the product of global warming, are certainly one threat facing the glaciers, said Shichang Kang, a professor at the Chinese Academy of Sciences’ Institute of Tibetan Plateau Research. But air pollution in the region is also helping to accelerate the melting. And now, Kang and a group of colleagues have helped shed some new light on where all this pollution is coming from and how it could be stopped.

In a new study, published Tuesday in the journal Nature Communications, the researchers collected samples of black carbon — a particulate matter created through the burning of fossil fuels and biomass — throughout the Third Pole and analyzed them using a special chemical “fingerprinting” process that identifies what kind of burning produced them and where they originated.

Black carbon might be most famous for the range of adverse health effects it’s believed to cause, including respiratory and cardiovascular problems and even premature death. But in terms of its effects on glaciers, it’s known to cause snow and ice melt in a number of different ways. First, black carbon floating in the atmosphere is able to absorb sunlight and cause at least temporary regional warming as a result, Kang noted. Additionally, when black carbon deposits itself on snow and ice masses, it tends to darken their surfaces, causing them to absorb more sunlight and melt faster.

Until now, scientists have had trouble pinpointing which places are contributing pollution to which regions of the Himalayas and the Tibetan Plateau and which types of sources are causing the most damage. That’s important information, not only for constructing accurate ice models to predict how the glaciers might change in the future, but also for writing new policies aimed at cutting pollution in the places that need it most.

In their new study, the researchers found evidence that both the burning of fossil fuels and the burning of biomass — materials such as plant matter and animal dung — have contributed to the black carbon that ended up in the Third Pole. In the Himalayas, it was split about evenly between the two sources, with most of it coming from the Indo-Gangetic Plain in northern India, while in the northern part of the Tibetan Plateau, most of the black carbon came from fossil fuel burning in China.

But in the inner, central part of the plateau, about two thirds of the sampled black carbon came from biomass burning rather than fossil fuels — a finding that Kang noted is “very surprising.” This suggests that internal Tibetan fuel-burning practices, such as burning yak dung for daily cooking and heating, are contributing more pollutants to certain parts of the Third Pole than experts previously suspected.

This is valuable data that can better inform the models used to simulate ice melt in the Third Pole and make predictions about what the region’s future might look like. But according to Kang, “the most important thing is that we can provide mitigation [advice] to policymakers.”

Because most biomass burning on the Tibetan Plateau is used for home energy, including cooking and heating, government investments in improving the efficiency of stoves and expanding the availability of cleaner energy sources to households in the region could make a big difference, Kang noted.

This advice isn’t meant to overshadow efforts to reduce fossil fuel burning, which also has big implications for the fight against global climate change. And wider efforts to address the burning of fossil fuels in Central and East Asia are already under way in some places. In China, for instance, coal-burning still remains the country’s dominant power source — but reports suggest that coal consumption hasn’t grown since 2013 and may have even declined in the last year, while the government has also placed a moratorium on new coal mine approvals for at least the next three years.

The study’s results may have helped reveal some new ways governments can add to or prioritize their current efforts to cut down on black carbon production. In the meantime, careful monitoring of the Third Pole’s glaciers will be critical, Kang said, especially when it comes to keeping an eye on the region’s water resources and making projections for the future.

“In the future, we’re definitely going to see glaciers shrink, but different regions with different climate regimes have different responses,” Kang said. “This is what we want to try to figure out.”

August 29, 2016 Posted by | China, climate change | Leave a comment

Public opposition threatens China’s grandiose nuclear power plans

Protest-No!flag-ChinaProtests threaten China’s nuclear energy plans,  Global Risk Insights, 26 Aug 16  NIMBYism is on the rise in China, and without better dialogue between stakeholders, threatens to undermine Beijing’s nuclear plans and efforts to meet its COP21 goals.

Over the past two weeks, thousands of residents of Lianyungang, a town in Jiangsu province, have gathered, halting preparations for a proposed nuclear waste reprocessing plant. Lianyungang is one of six sites under consideration for the project, but the two companies developing the plant, China National Nuclear Co. (CNNC) and France’s Areva, have not yet decided on a final location.

China’s ambitious nuclear plans The proposed fuel reprocessing center would recycle spent fuel to create new fissile material. This process also reduces the final volume of nuclear waste that needs to be stored. Currently, spent fuel is stored onsite at the power plant, usually first in cooling pools and then in dry casks. Long term storage facilities, such as the controversial Yucca mountain repository in Nevada, have been unsuccessful in gaining regulatory approval. However, on-site waste storage is not viable in the long term, and fuel reprocessing centers, like the proposed $15 billion CNNC-Areva project, will be critical to the viability of nuclear energy in China.………

Chinese state media has attributed the movement in Lianyungang to “nimbyism.” The NIMBY (Not In My Backyard) mentality has led to the suspension or cancellation of other industrial projects in China, such as praxylene or waste incinerator plants.

Lack of public input fuels opposition There is growing advocacy in China for an expanded role for public input in planning these projects – currently decisions at the planning stages are made with little input from residents: “for many local residents, there is no absolute guarantee that those projects, if built in their neighborhood, can be 100 percent safe. If there is some harm, they will bear the brunt of the costs and risks…..” http://globalriskinsights.com/2016/08/nimbyism-threatens-china-nuclear-plans/

August 27, 2016 Posted by | China, opposition to nuclear | Leave a comment

China really part of te global nuclear marketing conglomerate

global nuclear conglomerate

China plans to make nuclear energy tech a major export, Electric Light and Power 08/25/2016 By Joe McDonald  Associated Press   The Hualong One, developed by two state-owned companies, is one multibillion-dollar facet of the Communist Party’s aspirations to transform China into a creator of profitable technology from mobile phones to genetics.

Still, experts say Beijing underestimates how tough it will be for its novice nuclear exporters to sell abroad. They face political hurdles, safety concerns and uncertain global demand following Japan’s Fukushima disaster.

China’s government-run nuclear industry is based on foreign technology but has spent two decades developing its own with help from Westinghouse Electric Co., France’s Areva and EDF and other partners. A separate export initiative is based on an alliance between Westinghouse and a state-owned reactor developer……..

China’s status as an important market for global suppliers gives Beijing leverage in acquiring technology. Westinghouse, which was acquired by Japan’s Toshiba Corp. in 2006, Areva and France’s EDF have had partnerships with Chinese researchers since the early 1990s.

“I see them as customers, competitors and partners,” said Jeff Benjamin, Westinghouse’s senior vice president for new plants and major projects. Other global suppliers include GE Hitachi Nuclear Energy, South Korea’s KEPCO, Canada’s Candu Energy Inc. and Russia’s Atomstroyexport.

Westinghouse transferred technology for its latest reactor, the AP1000, to China’s State Nuclear Power Technology Corp. in 2007 as part of a transaction that included the sale of four reactors.

The AP1000 became the basis for future Chinese reactor development and Westinghouse agreed to sell reactors with SNPTC. The Chinese partner, which merged with another state company to form the State Power Investment Corp. last year, also developed its own, bigger version, the CAP1400.

The two companies are in talks with Turkey about selling four reactors based on the AP1000. The AP1000 has been approved by U.S. and British regulators, Benjamin said, while the CAP1400 is just beginning the review process. “We look forward to participating in the China market for many years to come,” he said. Abroad, “there will be markets either SPIC on their own or Westinghouse on our own might not have access to, but together we can gain access.” http://www.elp.com/articles/2016/08/china-plans-to-make-nuclear-energy-tech-a-major-export.html

August 27, 2016 Posted by | 2 WORLD, China, marketing | Leave a comment

China seriously overestimating the global market for their nuclear reactors

Beijing is “seriously underestimating” how hard global sales will be, said Schneider. He said obstacles include strict quality controls, regulations that differ from country to country and competition from the falling cost of wind and solar.

“There is simply no market out there,” said Schneider.

Overseas, China’s nuclear companies face questions over their status as arms of the state

Buy-China-nukes-1Here comes a new Chinese export: Nuclear reactors, CBS, 24 Aug 16  BEIJING On a seaside field south of Shanghai, workers are constructing a nuclear reactor that’s the flagship for Beijing’s ambition to compete with the U.S., France and Russia as an exporter of atomic power technology.

The Hualong One, developed by two state-owned companies, is one multibillion-dollar facet of the Communist Party’s aspirations to transform China into a creator of profitable technology from mobile phones to genetics.

Still, experts say Beijing underestimates how tough it will be for its novice nuclear exporters to sell abroad. They face political hurdles, safety concerns and uncertain global demand following Japan’s Fukushima disaster.

China’s government-run nuclear industry is based on foreign technology but has spent two decades developing its own with help from Westinghouse Electric, France’s Areva and EDF, and other partners. A separate export initiative is based on an alliance between Westinghouse and a state-owned reactor developer.

The industry is growing fast, with 32 reactors in operation, 22 being built and more planned, according to the World Nuclear Association, an industry group. China accounted for eight of 10 reactors that started operation last year and six of eight construction starts.

Abroad, builders broke ground in Pakistan last year for a power plant using a Hualong One, supported by a $6.5 billion Chinese loan. Also last year, Argentina signed a contract to use the reactor in a $15 billion plant financed by Chinese banks.

Sales come with financing from state banks, a model that helped Chinese companies break into the market for building highways and other public works in Africa and the Middle East. State-owned companies also are lining up to invest in nuclear power plants in Britain and Romania.

“This is generating significant build-up of skills and industrial experience,” said Mycle Schneider, a nuclear energy consultant in Paris, in an email.

Still, Beijing is “seriously underestimating” how hard global sales will be, said Schneider. He said obstacles include strict quality controls, regulations that differ from country to country and competition from the falling cost of wind and solar.

“There is simply no market out there,” said Schneider.

At home, Beijing faces public unease about nuclear power following an avalanche of industrial accidents and product safety scandals.

This month, thousands of residents of Lianyungang, north of Shanghai, protested after rumors spread that a facility to process nuclear waste might be built there. Authorities said the city, home to one of China’s biggest nuclear power plants, was only one of several being considered. After more protests, they announced the search for a site was suspended.

Overseas, China’s nuclear companies face questions over their status as arms of the state………

China’s nuclear industry has yet to report a major accident but reflexive official secrecy makes it hard for outsiders to assess its safety.

Changes in Chinese-designed models based on foreign technology, such as making reactors bigger while using cooling techniques for smaller units, “raise questions about safety and the good judgment of Chinese reactor engineers,” said Edward Lyman, a nuclear power specialist for the Union of Concerned Scientists in Washington, in an email.

“It is crucial for countries importing Chinese nuclear technology to rigorously conduct their own oversight over the products they are buying,” Lyman said………http://www.cbsnews.com/news/here-comes-a-new-chinese-export-nuclear-reactors/

August 26, 2016 Posted by | China, marketing | Leave a comment

Chinese nuclear company Pushed U.S. Experts for Nuclear Secrets – says FBI

computer-spy-nukeFBI Files Say China Firm Pushed U.S. Experts for Nuclear Secrets , Bloomberg,     davidvoreacos    damclaughAugust 25, 2016     

  • China General Nuclear Power charged with conspiracy by U.S.
  • CGN is partner in delayed British Hinkley plant under review
  • A state-owned Chinese power company under indictment in the U.S. pressed American nuclear consultants for years to hand over secret technologies and documents they weren’t supposed to disclose — and in some cases it got them, several of the consultants have told the FBI.

    Summaries of the consultants’ interviews with agents from the Federal Bureau of Investigation were filed this month in a federal court where the company, China General Nuclear Power Corp., has been charged with conspiring to steal nuclear technology.

    The FBI documents surfaced shortly after the same company became a focus of concerns across the Atlantic: The U.K. last month delayed approval of the country’s biggest nuclear power station in a generation as questions swirled about whether China General Nuclear’s investment in the plant poses a security risk.

     The filings provide a window into the tactics of CGN, China’s biggest nuclear power operator. One of the consultants said CGN employees asked for off-limits operational manuals to nuclear equipment and software, according to the interview summaries. Another said he was asked to provide proprietary temperature settings for material used to contain nuclear fuel. After he refused, he wasn’t offered more consulting jobs, he told the FBI……..
  • China Warning

    While the U.S. court case doesn’t address the U.K. plant, the FBI interviews could add to concerns expressed by British officials like Nick Timothy, a close adviser to the new prime minister, Theresa May. Timothy warned last year that China’s involvement in nuclear projects there might allow it to “shut down Britain’s energy production at will.”

    The prime minister hasn’t said why she put the brakes on the 18 billion pound ($24 billion) Hinkley Point plant in southwest England, a project one-third owned by CGN and led by Electricite de France SA. In addition to the security concerns, the project has faced criticism over its price tag and the above-market electricity rates that U.K. taxpayers would have to pay. Electricite de France declined to comment……….

  • U.S. Indictments

    In the U.S., CGN was indicted along with Szuhsiung “Allen” Ho, an American nuclear engineer born in Taiwan who recruited the U.S. consultants for CGN. Ho and the company are accused in a federal court in Knoxville, Tennessee, of conspiring to help Beijing obtain restricted U.S. nuclear technology over two decades. Ho, 66, is also accused of acting as an unregistered agent of the Chinese government. He faces life in a U.S. prison in what prosecutors call an “extremely significant national security case.”

  • Ho has pleaded not guilty. His lawyers say that he was merely helping China’s civil nuclear power industry and that he had no intent to break the law or steal U.S. secrets.

    The case is unfolding as U.S. officials say they see Beijing’s hand in cyber-espionage, indicting five Chinese military officials in absentia in 2014 for allegedly stealing trade secrets from U.S. companies — including Westinghouse Electric Co., a unit of Japan’s Toshiba Corp. that designs nuclear power plants. Westinghouse, which didn’t respond to requests for comment, is the former employer of Ho and many of the experts he brought to China to consult for CGN……..http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2016-08-25/fbi-files-say-china-firm-pushed-u-s-experts-for-nuclear-secrets

August 26, 2016 Posted by | China, secrets,lies and civil liberties | Leave a comment

Perception that China is not to be trusted is hampering its nuclear marketing ambitions

Buy-China-nukes-1Going Out’ to Hinkley Point? China’s Uncertain Future in International Energy China’s ambition to become a global energy power will have to overcome geopolitical hurdles, The Diplomat By Mykael Goodsell-SooTho August 18, 2016 “…….Recently, China has faced a number of setbacks which demonstrate several countries’ apprehension at the prospect of Chinese involvement in their energy infrastructure. Last week, the Australian government threw a wrench into the plans of China’s State Grid Corporation and Hong Kong’s Cheung Kong Infrastructure Holdings by preliminarily barring their bids for a controlling stake in Ausgrid, the country’s largest electricity network. This came just weeks after a similar decision by the U.K. government to postpone approval of the Hinkley Point C nuclear reactor project pending a comprehensive review of the plans. In both instances, officials have cited security concerns surrounding Chinese involvement in British and Australian energy infrastructure as primary reasons for the countries’ hesitance to conclude the deals. Whether or not these worries are well-founded, they constitute a significant obstacle to Chinese energy companies’ international ambitions.

While some critics of the Hinkley project—including Nick Timothy, Prime Minister Theresa May’s joint chief of staff—have argued that CGN’s involvement could allow the Chinese to shut down the U.K. power grid at will, others believe that the risks of Chinese participation in Hinkley could be less nefarious, but equally consequential. Such critics argue that, even in the absence of the James Bond-esque tactics touted by Timothy, dependence on China for the financial and technological resources necessary to run the U.K.’s nuclear power program would give China a great deal of control over a vital component of the country’s future. Moreover, quality concerns surrounding “Made in China” products certainly extend to nuclear reactors, and the fact remains that China has not yet established itself as a trustworthy exporter of nuclear-related goods and services. In light of these facts, the May administration has taken a much more cautious approach to the Hinkley project than its predecessor…….
The Chinese ambassador’s call to action highlights the importance of the project in the eyes of the Chinese. It suggests that China’s stake in Hinkley Point and other international energy projects extends beyond the associated financial costs and benefits. If approved, Hinkley Point will be the largest and most expensive nuclear construction venture in the world, and having CGN’s name attached the project would be a major step in establishing China’s credibility in international energy development……..China will face difficulty in further developing its presence in the energy markets outside its borders as long as its motivations for doing so continue to be perceived as dubious.http://thediplomat.com/2016/08/going-out-to-hinkley-point-chinas-uncertain-future-in-international-energy/

August 19, 2016 Posted by | China, marketing of nuclear, politics international | Leave a comment

Chinese executives charged with spying on USA nuclear technology, particularly Small Nuclear Reactor plans

computer-spy-nukeUS government accuses Hinkley point partner of nuclear espionage, SC Magazine, , 12 Aug 16  Major partners in the controversial nuclear power plant at Hinkley Point have been accused in American courts of attempting to steal US nuclear technology.  Fears over Chinese involvement in a new nuclear power plant at Hinkley Point have been reinforced as a major partner in the plant’s development has been accused by the US government of nuclear espionage.

Szuhsiung Ho, an advisor to the state-owned China General Nuclear Power (CGN) company, which would have a 33 percent stake in the new plant at Hinkley, has been charged with “conspiracy to unlawfully engage and participate in the production and development of special nuclear material outside the United States”.

Essentially, the US Department of Justice has accused Szuhsiung Ho, otherwise known as Allen Ho, of trying to steal US nuclear technology.

Ho, under orders from CGN, is supposed to have tried to get US nuclear experts to help develop nuclear material in China. According to a statement released by the DoJ, for nearly 20 years, between 1997 and 2016,  Ho “identified, recruited and executed contracts with US-based experts from the civil nuclear industry who provided technical assistance related to the development and production of special nuclear material”.

Of particular interest to Ho and his co-conspirators was assistance with CGN’s programmes on small modular reactors, advanced fuel assembly and fixed in-core detectors.

If one is to act as an agent of a foreign power within the United States, their status must be declared to the US attorney general. Not only did Ho not do this but explicitly told those he was trying to recruit that he was acting on behalf of the Chinese state. The DoJ records him as telling his potential recruits that he was working surreptitiously to help China “to design their Nuclear Instrumentation System independently and manufacture them independently”.

None of the accusations have yet been proven but the charges could carry a sentence of life and a US$250,000 (£192,000) fine.

The case is being pursued by a number of US law enforcement agencies including the Department of Energy – National Nuclear Security Administration and the US Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). Executive assistant director of the FBI’s national security branch Michael Steinbach said in a statement, “The arrest and indictment in this case send an important message to the US nuclear community that foreign entities want the information you possess”.

“The federal government has regulations in place to oversee civil nuclear cooperation, and if those authorities are circumvented, this can result in significant damage to our national security. The US will use all of its law enforcement tools to stop those who try to steal US nuclear technology and expertise.”…….http://www.scmagazineuk.com/us-government-accuses-hinkley-point-partner-of-nuclear-espionage/article/515702/

August 13, 2016 Posted by | China, Legal, secrets,lies and civil liberties, USA | Leave a comment

Chinese City Backs Down on Proposed Nuclear Fuel Plant After Protests

BEIJING — Bowing to days of passionate street protests, a city government in eastern China said Wednesday that it had halted any plans to build a nuclear fuel plant there. The reversal was the latest indication of how public distrust could hold back China’s ambitious plans for expanding its nuclear power industry.

The government of Lianyungang, a city near the coast of Jiangsu Province, announced the retreat in a terse message online. “The people’s government of Lianyungang has decided to suspend preliminary work for selecting a site for the nuclear cycle project,” it read, referring to a proposed plant for reprocessing used fuel from nuclear plants.

No reason was given, but it appeared clear enough. In recent days, residents have taken to the streets to oppose any decision to build the plant nearby. The main urban area of Lianyungang is just 20 miles southwest of a large and growing nuclear power plant on the coast, but the idea of a nuclear fuel reprocessing facility also being built in the area seemed to push public unease to a new height.

A 21-year-old Lianyungang resident with the surname Tang said Wednesday that demonstrators had been chanting “Oppose nuclear waste, defend our home.” Like other people contacted there, she did not want her full name used, citing fear of reprisal for talking to reporters.

Nobody wants this kind of thing built in their own home,” Ms. Tang said.

China’s authoritarian leaders are wary of local protests escalating into broader challenges to their power. But local governments have often given ground in the face of growing public opposition to chemical plants, waste incinerators and other potential sources of pollution. Now proposed nuclear projects are also becoming increasingly troublesome.

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A model of a nuclear reactor on display at the stand for the China National Nuclear Corporation at an expo in Beijing last year. Across the country, the nuclear disaster in Fukushima, Japan, in 2011 has hardened public wariness of nuclear power.

While the Chinese government does not hesitate to arrest the few political dissidents, it spends more time and energy to appease public demands,” Wenfang Tang, a professor of political science at the University of Iowa, who studies public opinion and politics in China, said in emailed comments.

The high level of government sensitivity and responsiveness to public opinion further encourages political activism in Chinese society,” Professor Tang said. “The louder you are, the more quickly the government will respond.”

In Lianyungang and across China, the nuclear calamity in Fukushima, Japan, in 2011 has hardened public wariness of nuclear power, although the government argues that expanding the industry is essential for weaning the economy off coal, with all of its dangerous pollutants.

The biggest protest in Lianyungang took place on Saturday, when many thousands of people, including families with children, marched through the downtown area.

Despite warnings from the government, protests continued on a smaller scale this week, as residents defied ranks of riot officers with shields, according to news reports and video that people shared through social media.

I told my daughter that she must go to this protest,” one resident said, according to Sixth Tone, an English-language news website based in Shanghai. “With every extra person, the momentum will get bigger.”

The announcement does not mean the nuclear fuel-reprocessing proposal is dead. The project is a collaboration between the China National Nuclear Corporation and a French company, Areva, and it has high-level government support, although no final agreement to build it has been signed. Five other Chinese provinces are under consideration for the initiative, and Lianyungang could lift its suspension. The two companies have said that they want to start building in 2020 and finish by 2030.

But in China, suspensions of contentious projects have a way of quietly turning into permanent cancellations, and Lianyungang appears likely to follow that pattern. The big question now will be whether public opposition coalesces in the five other areas under consideration.

All but one — Gansu Province in the northwest — is a heavily populated coastal province. Gansu is already home to China’s first civilian nuclear reprocessing plant, a small facility that has been held back by technical problems.

In 2013, officials jettisoned plans for a nuclear fuel fabrication plant in the southern province of Guangdong after protests. Preliminary proposals to build nuclear power plants inland have also ignited intense opposition.

The Chinese government has said that as it expands its fleet of nuclear power plants, it needs a plant for reprocessing spent fuel, a practice that separates unused plutonium and some uranium from waste. That unused material could be used to generate power, but critics have warned that the plutonium could be deployed for weapons. Japan has also built a full-scale reprocessing plant, but it has not started up yet.

On Chinese social media, and even on news websites, commentators said that the contention in Lianyungang showed that the public should have a bigger say in nuclear energy planning.

In just a few days, the official stand of Lianyungang has undergone a sea change,” read a comment on Sohu.com, a Chinese news website. “Don’t underestimate just how determined the public is in opposition to nuclear waste, which is far more dangerous than wastewater from any paper pulp mill.”

http://www.nytimes.com/2016/08/11/world/asia/china-nuclear-fuel-lianyungang.html

August 12, 2016 Posted by | China | , , | Leave a comment

Accidents will happen, but covering them up is unacceptable

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Shenanigans at a nuclear power plant in Guangdong show that transparency when incidents occur is just as important as safety protocols

The official report on an incident at a nuclear power plant near Hong Kong, more than a year ago, raises some serious safety questions. As a result of a breach of operational guidelines, and an attempted cover-up, three staff at the Yangjiang nuclear plant in Guangdong, 220km from Hong Kong, received administrative warnings and their crew leader was stripped of his senior nuclear operator licence – a more severe punishment, though none lost their jobs. The Ministry for Environmental Protection said the incident occurred during maintenance in March last year. After receiving a system alert, the four staff took actions that caused a “residual heat removal pump” on one of the reactors – a crucial back-up part of the water-cooling system – to stop functioning for six minutes. They then tried to cover up the incident and did not enter it into a log book as required.

Technician shortage in China ‘threatens nuclear plant safety’

On the face of it, the incident may sound relatively trivial, especially if the unit was not running. People familiar with such operations say breaching guidelines briefly would usually fall well short of immediate safety significance. But a number of points remain unclear after an investigation that took more than a year. The statement did not say what caused the alert, what actions the four took that led to their warnings, or how the incident and the attempted cover-up came to light. Thankfully, two nuclear experts dismissed the possibility of a radioactive leak or public safety threat.

The most serious concern is the attempted cover-up. This perverts a reporting system put in place to help safeguard life and property because human error and safety incidents cannot be eradicated. The Yangjiang incident also highlighted a growing operational problem in the nuclear industry – the shortage of senior operators for a massive expansion needed to meet the country’s consumption and emissions-reduction goals. Uncompetitive pay rates for what can be a high-pressure job do nothing to help recruitment.

Nuclear cover-up: environment ministry slaps penalties on errant crew over failures at Guangdong plant

That said, it remains true there is no more reliable or cleaner way of producing electricity. China has earned a reputation for taking nuclear safety seriously and wanting to be seen to do so to help promotion of its nuclear technology to potential foreign buyers.

Exposure of the attempted cover-up is a reminder that transparency is as important with nuclear power plants as safety. Lessons learned with each incident can only result in safer and better reactors.

http://www.scmp.com/comment/insight-opinion/article/2001587/accidents-will-happen-covering-them-unacceptable

August 12, 2016 Posted by | China | , , | Leave a comment

China’s backdown on nuclear waste facility could be permanent

in China, suspensions of contentious projects have a way of quietly turning into permanent cancellations, and Lianyungang appears likely to follow that pattern.

“Don’t underestimate just how determined the public is in opposition to nuclear waste, which is far more dangerous than wastewater from any paper pulp mill.”

Protest-No!flag-ChinaChinese City Backs Down on Proposed Nuclear Fuel Plant After Protests, NYT, 点击查看本文中文版 Read in Chinese By CHRIS BUCKLEY AUG. 10, 2016 BEIJING — Bowing to days of passionate street protests, a city government in eastern China said Wednesday that it had halted any plans to build a nuclear fuel plant there. The reversal was the latest indication of how public distrust could hold back China’s ambitious plans for expanding its nuclear power industry.

The government of Lianyungang, a city near the coast of Jiangsu Province, announced the retreat in a terse message online. “The people’s government of Lianyungang has decided to suspend preliminary work for selecting a site for the nuclear cycle project,” it read, referring to a proposed plant for reprocessing used fuel from nuclear plants.

No reason was given, but it appeared clear enough. In recent days, residents have taken to the streets to oppose any decision to build the plant nearby. The main urban area of Lianyungang is just 20 miles southwest of a large and growing nuclear power plant on the coast, but the idea of a nuclear fuel reprocessing facility also being built in the area seemed to push public unease to a new height…….The announcement does not mean the nuclear fuel-reprocessing proposal is dead. The project is a collaboration between the China National Nuclear Corporation and a French company, Areva, and it has high-level government support, although no final agreement to build it has been signed. Five other Chinese provinces are under consideration for the initiative, and Lianyungang could lift its suspension. The two companies have said that they want to start building in 2020 and finish by 2030.

 But in China, suspensions of contentious projects have a way of quietly turning into permanent cancellations, and Lianyungang appears likely to follow that pattern. The big question now will be whether public opposition coalesces in the five other areas under consideration.All but one — Gansu Province in the northwest — is a heavily populated coastal province. Gansu is already home to China’s first civilian nuclear reprocessing plant, a small facility that has been held back by technical problems……..

On Chinese social media, and even on news websites, commentators said that the contention in Lianyungang showed that the public should have a bigger say in nuclear energy planning.

 “In just a few days, the official stand of Lianyungang has undergone a sea change,” read a comment on Sohu.com, a Chinese news website. “Don’t underestimate just how determined the public is in opposition to nuclear waste, which is far more dangerous than wastewater from any paper pulp mill.” http://www.nytimes.com/2016/08/11/world/asia/china-nuclear-fuel-lianyungang.html?_r=1

August 12, 2016 Posted by | China, politics | Leave a comment

Nuclear plant scheme halted in eastern China after thousands take part in street protests

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The government in Lianyungang in Jiangsu province issues brief statement saying work on nuclear fuel reprocessing plant project suspended

The authorities in Lianyungang, Jiangsu province, have ­suspended plans to build a ­nuclear fuel reprocessing plant after several days of street protests against the project.

Observers said the decision could put other nuclear projects under greater public scrutiny, and urged backers of similar schemes to improve transparency.

The Lianyungang city government announced the halt in a one-sentence statement issued early Wednesday morning.

The government has decided to suspend preliminary work on site selection for the nuclear recycling project,” the statement said.

It came after thousands of protesters launched a series of street demonstrations from Saturday, protesting about the potential ­radiation risks and the alleged lack of transparency in the decision-making process for the project.

Residents used social media platforms to question the process but the comments were soon deleted by censors. “What if there is any radiation leakage? Why does the government want to make a decision on such a big issue on its own, a decision that will affect ­future generations?” they asked.

China National Nuclear Corporation planned to use technology supplied by French firm Areva to develop the spent ­nuclear fuel reprocessing plant.

Residents of Chinese city protest for third day over possible plans to build nuclear fuel reprocessing centre

The companies previously said construction would start in 2020 and be completed by 2030, but had not settled on a site.

The process has been shrouded in secrecy, with Lianyungang residents discovering that their city could be the site for the plant after the State Administration of Science, Technology and Industry for National Defence announced in a press ­release that a deputy head visited the city on July 26 and claimed “much progress has been made on site selection”.

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The Lianyungang city government issued a statement on ­Sunday to try to calm the public, saying the plans were still at an early stage and no location had been confirmed.

Sporadic protests continued on Monday and Tuesday, with video footage posted online showing police mobilised to protect the city government’s office building from protesters.

Xiamen University energy policy specialist Lin Boqiang said the plan was shelved as a result of a lack of transparency and communication by the government and state-owned nuclear companies.

Residents come out in force to protest against Sino-French nuclear project

Public concerns can be contagious and spill over to other ­cities, as has been the case with various incinerator and PX [chemical] projects,” he said.

Many local governments have been forced to scrap plans for such projects after public protests over health and safety concerns.

A series of deadly blasts at industrial sites over the years has only worsened public fears and deepened distrust of government.

China’s PX industry suffered a severe setback. If the developers of nuclear projects do not learn a lesson, they could be faced with similar problems in future,” Lin said.

China is the world’s most ­active builder of nuclear power plants. It has 32 reactors in operation, 22 under construction and more planned.

The government has also spent heavily to build up its ability to produce nuclear fuel and process the waste.

http://m.scmp.com/news/china/policies-politics/article/2001726/nuclear-plant-scheme-halted-eastern-china-after

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August 11, 2016 Posted by | China | , , , , | Leave a comment

Residents come out in force to protest against Sino-French nuclear project

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Rumours that Lianyungang, Jiangsu province will be site of plant sparks rally in city

Residents in Lianyungang in Jiangsu province ignored police warnings and filled a square for a demonstration over rumours the city would be the site of a Sino-French nuclear project.

The rally over a used-nuclear-fuel processing and recycling plant underscored the tension ­between public concern over ­nuclear safety and the growing pressure on China to reduce its reliance on fossil fuels.

The scene appeared to turn tense on Sunday night, the second night of the protest, with pictures posted on Weibo claiming to show police in riot gear, and messages claiming police scuffled with demonstrators. The claim could not be independently verified.

The Lianyungang city government also issued a statement late on Sunday, saying the site for the project was still being deliberated. The government pledged to ­ensure transparency and consult the public, but also warned it would deal with rumour-mongers severely.

Residents started to gather in a square downtown on Saturday night, with some chanting the slogan “boycott nuclear waste”, videos and photos circulating on mainland social ­media showed.

The government only highlights the mass investment in the project and its economic benefit, but never mentions a word about safety or health concerns,” a local resident surnamed Ding told the Post by phone. “We need to voice our ­concerns, that’s why we went on our protests,” he said.

Police had issued a warning late on Friday saying that the demonstration organiser had not applied for the gathering, and calling on residents not to be misled by information circulating on the internet. Large numbers of police officers were also deployed to the demonstration venue.

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Saturday’s demonstration appeared to be peaceful, with no reported conflicts.

Meanwhile over the weekend, the country conducted its first comprehensive nuclear-emergency drill, which aimed to test and improve responses to nuclear ­incidents, according to the State Administration of Science, Technology and Industry for National Defence, Xinhua reported.

Dubbed Storm-2016, the drill had no pre-planned scripts or ­expected results, Xinhua added.

China’s ambition to develop nuclear power was briefly hampered in 2011, after Beijing suspended approval for new nuclear power stations and started to conduct nationwide safety checks of all projects in the wake of the ­disaster in Fukushima, Japan.

The moratorium was lifted last year when at least two nuclear power plants, including one in ­Lianyungang, were given the green light for construction.

The nation’s five-year plan covering 2016 to 2020 calls for a dramatic increase in non-fossil-fuel energy sources, with six to eight new nuclear plants to be built each year.

China has 35 nuclear reactors in operation and 20 under construction, according to the International Atomic Energy Agency.

Six provinces – including Guangdong, Shandong , ­Fujian, Zhejiang and Gansu – the only inland province – are listed as candidates for the Sino-French project, according to China Business News.

However, public anger was triggered late last month when comments on a government news website hinted that Lianyungang would be the site of the new project. According to CNNC’s website, the plant was to be the biggest ever project between China and France, and would be built by CNNC using technology from ­Areva, France’s state-owned maker of nuclear reactors.

http://www.scmp.com/news/china/policies-politics/article/2000561/residents-come-out-force-protest-against-sino-french

August 11, 2016 Posted by | China | , , , | 1 Comment

After huge public protest Chinese town halts nuclear waste project

Protest-No!flag-ChinaChinese town suspends nuclear waste project, DW, 10 Aug 16 A city in the eastern part of China has said it’s suspending preliminary work on a nuclear waste processing plant after days of protests by local residents over health concerns. No final decision has been made yet. The Chinese city of Lianyungang in the eastern province of Jiangsu announced Wednesday it would suspend preparations for a possible Sino-French nuclear waste processing project after thousands of local residents had taken to the streets to protest the plan.

The protesters had called for the project to be canceled altogether on health grounds, clashing with police.

French nuclear fuel group Areva agreed in 2012 to cooperate with state-run China National Nuclear Group (CNNC) to build a reprocessing facility in China, without stating any specific location…….

The $12.05-billion (10.81-billion-euro) waste processing project had been scheduled to get off the ground in 2020 to be completed by 2030, but its future is now unclear.

The project had been opposed by US authorities saying it would harm efforts to limit the spread of materials that could be used in weapons.

The Lianyungang protests highlighted local opposition to nuclear projects across China, which is increasing its atomic power capacity on a huge scale and encouraging state-run firms to build plants abroad.……http://www.dw.com/en/chinese-town-suspends-nuclear-waste-project/a-19462414

August 10, 2016 Posted by | China, politics | Leave a comment

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