China must step up oversight of its nuclear power plants in the wake of the Fukushima nuclear disaster, a senior Chinese official said, as the country shows little sign of scaling back an ambitious program to build more reactors, according to Associated Press.
The ongoing crisis at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant following Japan’s disastrous earthquake and tsunami in March had laid bare a “host of problems” with how nuclear power is handled, Vice Environment Minister Li Ganjie said.
“Some of them are technical, some are at a managerial level, some are unavoidable caused by natural disasters, while some are caused by manmade factors and that can be prevented,” Li told the Associated Press.
He said China needs to raise safety standards for the industry, to make information more accessible and to put in place a strong team of independent regulators to supervise nuclear safety.
Li’s Ministry of Environmental Protection shares responsibility for overseeing the nuclear power industry with the more powerful National Development Reform Commission, which promotes nuclear power as important to the country’s future energy security.
Even before the Fukushima crisis, Li’s ministry had urged the government for more funds to monitor the rapidly growing nuclear power industry.
China has 13 operating commercial nuclear reactors, 26 under construction and another 52 planned, according to the World Nuclear Association, an industry group. While the government ordered safety checks soon after the Fukushima plant began leaking, plans to scale-up the industry have not been significantly altered.