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China cancels construction of $6 bln nuclear plant

China has cancelled the construction of a $6 billion nuclear procession plant in Guangdong province apparently due to public concerns over its safety.

world Updated: Jul 13, 2013 11:54 IST

China has cancelled the construction of a $6 billion nuclear procession plant in Guangdong province apparently due to public concerns over its safety.

The planned nuclear fuel processing project in south China's Guangdong Province has been cancelled, state-run Xinhua news agency reported on Satur.

The planned Longwan Industrial Park project under China National Nuclear Corporation, located in Zhishan Township in Heshan City, was cancelled, the report said, quoting officials of municipal government of Jiangmen, which administers Heshan and company sources.

The planned industrial park, with a designed capacity of 1,000 tonnes of uranium in 2020, was to feature facilities for uranium conversion, enrichment and manufacturing of nuclear fuel equipment, involving a total investment of 37 billion yuan ($6 billion), the report said.

The brief report did not mention why the project was cancelled.

This is the first nuclear project cancelled by China, which is embarking on a massive expansion of nuclear power projects.

Earlier reports said local people had expressed concerns over the safety of the processing plant handling such large quantities of uranium.

Public protests which are rare in China are now becoming common specially when it comes to preservation of the environment.

Chinese officials also halted the construction of a copper alloy plant in Sichuan province following violent protests by local residents.

The cancellation of Guangdong plant also comes in the backdrop of slowing down of the economy which was expected to contract to 7.5% this year from last year's 7.8%, amid reports of a liquidity crunch.

In March this year, China shook off concerns over nuclear safety after Fukushima disaster and announced plans to increase its installed nuclear power generation capacity to 20% this year.

By 2020 China will have the third-largest number of nuclear power-generating units in operation, following the US and France, He Yu, Chairman of the China Guangdong Nuclear Power Group said.

Nuclear power totalling 3.24 gigawatts (GW) will be added in 2013, previous reports of Xinhua quoted National Development and Reform Commission as saying. According to a government white paper on energy released in October, 2012, China had 15 nuclear power-generating units in operation with a total installed capacity of 12.54 GW.

He Yu said China has another 30 units currently under construction, which will add another 32.81 GW.

The October white paper stated that nuclear power only accounts for 1.8% of China's total power output, far below the global average of 14%.

China's nuclear power development came to a halt after the Fukushima nuclear crisis that occurred in Japan in March, 2011.

The country suspended approvals for new nuclear plants and carried out a nationwide safety review after the crisis.

The approvals were cautiously resumed in October, 2012.

In January, China broke ground on a 3-billion-yuan ( USD 476 million) nuclear power project with a designed capacity of 200 megawatts in the city of Rongcheng in east China's Shandong Province.

The project will be the first in the world to feature a high-temperature gas-cooled reactor with fourth-generation features to be used for commercial purposes.

Developed by Tsinghua University, the reactor will start generating power by the end of 2017.

First Published: Jul 13, 2013 11:51 IST