China’s National Energy Administration is analysing whether the country should build inland nuclear power plants. The topic has aroused fierce debate.
China Nuclear Energy Association has released a research report about the environmental security of inland nuclear power plants, and has come to the conclusion that such a facility would be safe.
Professor Zhou Ruming with the Association claims that the impact of liquid radioactive waste over underground water is within the allowable range, if nuclear power plants are running properly.
“When plants are running properly, the radioactive impact caused by disposal of liquid waste will fluctuate within the range of natural background radiation. It is not only our prediction but also facts have been proved by experiences of the United States and France. Our country has adopted many measures to treat liquid radioactive waste in order to secure the water quality of downstream. We can achieve that.”
However, different from the US and France, China is densely populated and short of water resources. Additionally, earthquakes frequently happen in this country. Some people doubt if proper locations for nuclear power plants can be found.
Chang Xiangdong is the vice chief engineer of the Nuclear and Radiation Safety Center, an agency directly under China’s Ministry of Environmental Protection.
He says they take all that factors into consideration when selecting locations.
“In accordance with laws and regulations, we need to select locations where it is safe to build nuclear power plants with minimal impact over the environment. So far all the nuclear plants sites in China were selected in this way. “
Lessons have been learned in the four years since the Fukushima nuclear disaster in Japan. Nuclear officials in the country like Takuya Hattori admit that radiation pollution from the damaged plant is not fully under control. And fixing the problem will not be cheap.
“The total cost of this counter measure is estimated, but not officially announced to the public, to reach 2 to 3 trillion Japanese yen.”
After the Fukushima leak, Germany, Italy and Switzerland announced plans to abandon nuclear projects.
Despite the risks that come with nuclear power, the head of nuclear power department of China’s National Energy Administration, Liu Baohua, says the power source has its benefits.
“Developing nuclear power is a practical choice to secure energy supplies. China’s demand for electricity will reach 9 trillion kilowatt-hours per year. It is hard to imagine that we can meet the massive demand without nuclear power. Additionally, we need to develop nuclear power so as to optimize our energy structure- currently coal power account for 75 per cent of our total power generation. “