press trust of india
BEIJING, 13 JULY: China’s ambitious plans to expand its nuclear power industry suffered a major setback as the government cancelled plans to build a US$ 6 billion atomic fuel processing plant in southern Guangdong Province following rare public protests over the project’s safety.
The planned Longwan Industrial Park project, located in Zhishan Township in the city of Heshan, has been cancelled, state-run Xinhua news agency today reported quoting the municipal government of Jiangmen, which administers Heshan, where the plant was to be built.
Many local residents expressed opposition to the project after it was made public by the Heshan government on 4 July, said Wu Yuxiong, mayor of Heshan.
“The Heshan government respects the public’s opinion and will not apply for approval for the project,” Wu said.
The public’s opposition was mainly due to safety worries and environmental concerns.
Most of China’s nuclear fuel processing plants are currently based in western China, while China’s nuclear power plants are mainly based in the eastern coastal region. The cost and inefficiency of long-distance transportation of the fuel prompted the Longwan Industrial Park project.
There is a relatively greater number of nuclear power plants near Heshan, which therefore has more demand for nuclear fuel.
The geological conditions in Heshan are also stable, Chi Xuefeng, a nuclear expert told Xinhua.
The nuclear fuel will not produce much radiation and the manufacturing process will not create pollution, Zhao Yamin, a researcher with the Ministry of Environmental Protection said.
China is working on forming a complete industrial nuclear power system. It has the greatest nuclear power capacity under construction of any country in the world.
This is the first nuclear project cancelled by China as it embarks on a massive expansion of nuclear power projects. Public protests which are rare in China are now becoming common specially when it comes to preservation of environment.
Last year, China halted the construction of a copper alloy plant in Sichuan province following violent protests by local residents.