China’s plan to construct nuclear reactors at breakneck pace raises safety concerns

December 16th, 2009 - 3:45 pm ICT by ANI  

Shenzhen (China), Dec. 16 (ANI): China’s plan to build three times as many nuclear power plants in the coming decade as the rest of the world has raised safety concerns.

While the construction 10 nuclear reactors each year has a potential to help slow global warming, the breakneck pace of the project has raised some serious apprehensions. China has asked for international help in training a force of nuclear inspectors, the New York Times reports.

The last country to carry out such a rapid nuclear expansion was the United States in the 1970s, in a binge of reactor construction that ended with the Three Mile Island accident in Pennsylvania in 1979.

And China is placing many of its nuclear plants near large cities, potentially exposing tens of millions of people to radiation in the event of an accident.

“At the current stage, if we are not fully aware of the sector’s over-rapid expansions, it will threaten construction quality and operation safety of nuclear power plants,” Li Ganjie, the director of China’s National Nuclear Safety Administration, said this year.

However, China’s civilian nuclear power industry - with 11 reactors operating- is not known to have had a serious accident in 15 years of large-scale electricity production.

Philippe Jamet, the director of the division of nuclear installation safety at the International Atomic Energy Agency in Vienna, said that China had welcomed foreign inspectors at its reactors and that “they show pretty good operations safety.”

But he added that the international agency was concerned about whether China would have enough nuclear inspectors with adequate training to handle the rapid expansion.

“They don’t have very much staff, when you compare their staff with how many they will need,” Jamet said. (ANI)

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