China can guarantee nuclear power plants safety: official

Updated: 2011-03-27 07:58
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BEIJING - An official overseeing nuclear safety in China has said that the safety of the country's nuclear power facilities is guaranteed, while reaffirming its goal of developing nuclear power as a clean energy source.

"There is a guarantee for the safety of China's nuclear power facilities and (China) will not abandon (its nuclear power plan) for fear of slight risks," said Tian Shujia in response to reports that China will become more prudent toward developing nuclear power.

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Tian, director of two nuclear safety centers under the Ministry of Environmental Protection, made the remarks in an interview with the People's Daily.

He said there are strict laws, regulations, and technical standards which govern site selection, design, construction, testing, operation, and retirement of nuclear power plants in China. He added that these codes are stringently enforced by the Chinese government.

China drew up these codes by taking developed countries' nuclear standards and the safety recommendations of the International Atomic Energy Agency into full account, he said.

China took lessons from previous nuclear power accidents and adopted time-tested technology in designing and building its nuclear power plants, he added.

According to Tian, no notable defects have been found in China's seven operational nuclear power plants, and the safety statistics for most of these plants are higher than the global average.

In addition, China has an emergency-response mechanism in place for its nuclear power plants, he said.

Tian's interview was the latest official remark on nuclear safety in China after a quake-triggered explosion led to radioactive leakage at a Japanese nuclear power plant earlier this month.

One day after the deadly quake jolted Japan, Vice Minister of Environmental Protection Zhang Lijun said that China would not change its plans for developing nuclear power.

Although China suspended its approval process for new nuclear power stations on March 16, officials have not indicated any possible suspension of the national nuclear energy plan set in the country's development plan for the next five years.

Under the 12th Five-Year Plan approved by China's top legislature on March 14, China will launch new nuclear energy projects with a combined generative capacity of 40 million kilowatts.

In the interview, Tian said nuclear energy, as a form of clean energy, is a necessary choice for China if the country will meet its 2020 goal. Currently, non-fossil fuels account for 8 percent of China's total energy consumption.

China plans to have 66 nuclear power plants by 2020 with a total generating capacity of 66 million kilowatts, which will account for 6 percent of China's total power capacity, according to Tian.