China confident in nuclear emergency preparedness

27 January 2016

China's State Council has today issued its first white paper on nuclear energy, detailing policies and measures to boost nuclear emergency preparedness and promoting nuclear security. Nuclear safety, it says, has been strengthened in parallel with development of its nuclear industry.

The white paper - released by the State Council Information Office - notes that China's first nuclear power plant, at Qinshan, began operating in 1985. As of the end of October 2015, the Chinese mainland had 27 power reactors in operation with a combined generating capacity of 25.5 GWe. A further 25 units with a combined capacity of 27.5 GWe are under construction.

The white paper, entitled China's Nuclear Emergency Preparedness, says that China has always given safety priority in the development of its nuclear energy industry.

China's nuclear activities "remain in a safe and stable state" the paper says, noting that no incidents rated above Level 2 on the International Nuclear Event Scale (INES) have occurred at the country's nuclear facilities. "The release of gaseous and liquid effluents are kept far below the national regulatory limits," it says. The white paper attributed this "sound safety record" to efforts to improve nuclear safety techniques, enforcing rigorous nuclear safety supervision, and strengthening nuclear emergency management.

China has taken account of the lessons learned from nuclear accidents worldwide - including at Three Mile Island, Chernobyl and Fukushima Daiichi - to have "a more profound understanding of the extreme importance of nuclear emergency preparedness". The country continues to strengthen and improve its nuclear emergency preparedness and response efforts, and improve its nuclear safety, the paper says.

The paper notes that China's emergency response network is "of a proper scale, well-coordinated and with a rational layout". It said there are currently over 30 national-level professional response teams specializing in various types of rescue missions. China will also set up a 300-strong national nuclear emergency response team to respond to severe nuclear accidents and participate in international operations.

The document also sets out five measures that China is taking to control and mitigate nuclear accidents. These include: quality of design, manufacturing, construction and operation of nuclear facilities; strict operational procedures; automated plant safety and protection systems; accident handling procedures to prevent radioactive releases; and, off-site emergency actions to be taken to minimize the impact on the public and the environment.

China will also reinforce public communication and information disclosure about nuclear emergency preparedness.

"The pace of development of nuclear energy does not stop, so the pace of strengthening nuclear emergency preparedness will not stop," the document says. "China will continue to strengthen and improve nuclear emergency work to ensure the safety and efficiency of nuclear power, and provide strong protection for [its] sustained and healthy development."

"China's development is inseparable from the world; the world also needs China", the paper states. "China will actively participate in the construction of international nuclear safety emergency response system and will work together with the international community to solve the major issues facing the field of nuclear emergency preparedness."

Researched and written
by World Nuclear News