China suspends new nuclear plans in wake of events in Japan

By Dorothy Davis   

Following affirmation just days ago by its vice minister for environmental protection that China would not change its aggressive nuclear power plans, Premier Wen Jiabo announced Wednesday that the nation would suspend all new nuclear power projects.

The announcement followed a State Council executive meeting chaired by Premier Jiabo to review a report on the Japanese Fukushima nuclear crisis and outline plans to implement a comprehensive safety evaluation of existing nuclear projects in China. 

For comprehensive coverage of the Japanese nuclear power disaster and efforts under way to resolve it, visit PennEnergy’s Japan Earthquake and Nuclear Emergency 2011  special section.

China currently has 25 new plants under construction as part of plans to expand its nuclear capacity from 10.8-gigawatts (GW) to 86GW by 2020, tripling its uranium imports last year to support its ambitious nuclear expansion program.

The meeting focused on a need to continue the strengthening of early warning and environmental monitoring and a decision to suspend approval of new nuclear projects, including those in preliminary stages of development while China revised and applied stricter safety standards for nuclear power.

China’s National Nuclear Emergency Coordination Group Committee was also quick to address fears that leaks at the Fukushima nuclear power complex could impact the nation’s public health and safety. Experts from the Committee outlined that current atmospheric and oceanic conditions have scattered any drifts of radioactive material over the Pacific leaving little risk of dangerous exposure.

China is the latest nation to shift its nuclear power initiatives in the wake of events at Japan’s Fukushima nuclear power complex. Since Saturday, Germany, Sweden, India and South Korea have all announced plans to reevaluate or temporarily halt nuclear projects.

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