Fri, 17 Feb 2012 02:54:37 GMT

China faces civic protests over new nuclear power plants



Beijing, Feb 17 (PTI) China is experiencing civic protest over its ambitious plans to build massive nuclear power plants following the disaster in a Japanese atomic reactor.

An inter-provincial squabble over a nuclear power plant being built near the southern bank of the Yangtze River, has raised questions about China''s ambitious expansion of its nuclear power programme, state media reported today.

The plant in the centre of the brewing controversy is located in Pengze county in Jiangxi. Across the river the government of Wangjiang county in Anhui wants the project shelved, saying they don''t want the nuke plant so close to their backyard.

A report submitted by Wangjiang officials accuses its neighbour of lying about the population density in the area.

They claim more than 150,000 people from Wangjiang alone live within a 10-kilometre radius of the plant. State regulations require that no more than 100,000 people should be living within a 10-kilometre radius of a planned nuclear power plant.

The Wangjiang report also claims the proposed plant is in or near an earthquake zone.

They point to a 2011 quake that shook the city of Jiujiang about 80 kilometres away which measured 4.6 on the Richter scale, and another in 2005 that measured 5.7, state run Global Times reported today.

Just two years ago China announced an ambitious plan to up the percentage of electricity supplied by nuclear power to five percent of total power by 2020.

This would see the country''s nuclear generating capacity increase more than seven times to over 80 gigawatts.

China currently has 13 nuclear power plants with varied capacities and constructing 27 others, mostly with 1000mw capacity, made with US, French and Japanese technologies.

Work in all these plants was stopped for safety review after the disaster at the Fukushima nuclear reactors.

Jiangxi country officials argue that planned nuclear power plant with six reactors with installed capacity of 8000 mw is expected to work wonders for its economy.

The first reactor is expected to be operational by 2015.

At a total cost of 100 billion yuan (USD 15.87 billion), even the construction of the plant will give the local economy "an enormous kick". But across the river Wangjiang country officials worry their agricultural-based economy is being threatened by the plant. (More) PTI KJV

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