Antinuclear

Australian news, and some related international items

Hong Kong fears about China’s confusing nuclear safety standards

“In Daya Bay, we adopted French technology, but we now have multiple technologies and much of it is unproven,” says Lai, echoing the official findings reported to China’s State Council in 2012 as part of a nuclear safety review in the wake of Japan’s Fukushima disaster: “China has multiple types of nuclear reactors, multiple technologies and multiple standards of safety”.

Radiation fears in Hong Kong from China’s unproven and possibly faulty nuclear reactors nearby, Post Magazine, Stuart Heaver, 10 Jan 16  Unproven and possibly faulty nuclear reactors are being built on Hong Kong’s doorstep and throughout China, a country not known for its transparency or industrial safety, writes Stuart Heaver

Scientists and conservationists fear the ever-increasing commercial and environmental pressure to expand the nuclear power sector means not enough attention is being paid to safety. Within a couple of decades, Hong Kong could be in close proximity to as many as 39 reactors, spread across Guangdong province. Two of them are nearing completion just 140km west of Hong Kong, in Taishan, in what has been labelled by green groups as the “most dangerous nuclear power plant in the world”.

We are very worried about Taishan and the design flaws in the reactor vessel and we would like to know what [China General Nuclear Power Group] are doing
FRANCES YEUNG, GREENPEACE ASIA

“China is developing its nuclear capability too fast; they just don’t have enough trained staff or adequate independent safety infrastructure,” says civil engineer Albert Lai Kwong-tak, convenor of Hong Kong think tank the Professional Commons and a long-standing opponent of nuclear energy. Yet, despite the reservations of campaigners, China is not only the world’s biggest market for nuclear technology but, according to the World Nuclear Association (WNA), it is set to “go global”.

“The only country that is building plants to a significant degree is China,” says nuclear industry analyst Mycle Schneider……..

there are still no proven safe means of disposing of radioactive waste and, despite pledges to build a dedicated facility, all of Daya Bay’s spent fuel rods are still in a temporary facility about 5km from the main plant.

“In Daya Bay, we adopted French technology, but we now have multiple technologies and much of it is unproven,” says Lai, echoing the official findings reported to China’s State Council in 2012 as part of a nuclear safety review in the wake of Japan’s Fukushima disaster: “China has multiple types of nuclear reactors, multiple technologies and multiple standards of safety”.

The reactors being built in Taishan appear to be among the most problematic. Construction of the plant was begun by French nuclear energy giant Areva and the €8 billion (HK$67 billion) contract with China General Nuclear Power Group (CGN) to install two third-generation European pressure reactors (EPR) there was heralded by Areva as “the largest international commercial contract signed in civil nuclear history”. The unveiling of the deal, at a ceremony in November 2007, was attended by the Chinese and French presidents in Beijing’s Great Hall of the People. In order to save time and money, according to Areva’s official website, the plant was to use technology that had been proven at two EPR plants already under construction in Europe.

“Thanks to the operating experience gained by Areva’s teams on the two first-of-a-kind EPR reactors at Olkiluoto [in Finland] and Flamanville [in France], the project schedule has been shortened by 40 months,” reads a statement on Areva’s website.

It is astonishing that this statement has remained on the website because there is no operating experience to speak of; both Olkiluoto and Flamanville have yet to go online. Both are many years behind schedule and billions of euros over budget. Olkiluoto is already the subject of a complicated and expensive legal dispute between Areva and its partners in Finland.

Rather than being the third plant successfully using the technology, Taishan, surrounded by dense Pearl River Delta conurbations, is more likely to be operating untested EPR reactors, the first fully functioning ones on the planet, should they go into service. Both units are two years behind schedule and last April the news got a whole lot worse, when Pierre-Franck Chevet, head of French nuclear safety agency Autorité de Sûreté Nucléaire (ASN), reported that a “serious anomaly affecting a crucial component of the nuclear power plant” had been detected.

“Some 92 nuclear power plants have already been abandoned mid-construction and Flamanville could be added to that list anytime soon,” says Schneider. “They found a technical fault [in the reactor casing] and it’s the same situation at Taishan. The material has not been manufactured to the correct technical specification. This is extremely complex.”

Chevet hastily flew to Beijing but the outcome of his meeting has yet to be made public. He had added that unless he was satisfied with the plans to rectify the problem, he could put a stop to the EPR project in France, a decision that could have disastrous and far-reaching ramifications for Beijing’s nuclear ambitions and the French economy, which is heavily reliant on the nuclear programme in China………

TAISHAN IS VEILED IN SECRECY, even though the safety implications directly affect tens of millions of people and the fear is that the very high levels of political and financial capital invested in the Chinese nuclear dream will eventually outweigh any public safety concerns.

The principal evacuation zone established after the Fukushima plant was damaged by the Tohoku earthquake in 2011 was 30km. Nevertheless, says Schneider, technical evaluations have found hot spots of radioactivity 60km from the plant that were higher than those found in the exclusion zones surrounding Chernobyl, the Soviet nuclear power plant that melted down in 1986.

The finances of China’s nuclear energy programme are eye-watering and the stakes are high. The total assets of CGN, which operates most of the Guangdong plants, are expected to have grown to one trillion yuan (HK$1.19 trillion) by 2020, according to state media reports, and the numbers affect economies outside China………. http://www.scmp.com/magazines/post-magazine/article/1898583/hong-kong-fallout-chinas-reckless-nuclear-ambitions-feared

 

January 11, 2016 - Posted by | Uncategorized

1 Comment »

  1. Reblogged this on A Green Road Daily News.

    Comment by A Green Road Project | January 12, 2016 | Reply


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