Mar 09, 2012 01:29 PM

Ex-officials Battle Plan to Build Nuclear Project

Work on China's nuclear power plants has begun to pick up again a year after the Fukushima disaster in Japan. But the meltdown on March 11, 2011, is still fresh on the minds of four retired cadres in  Province's Wangjiang County.

They petitioned against the Pengze nuclear power project in neighboring Jiangxi Province and ultimately convinced their local government to oppose the plan. This kind of official opposition to a nuclear undertaking is almost unheard of in China.

The Pengze plant would be China's first inland nuclear power facility. It is north of the Yangtze River, and only ten kilometers from the center of Wangjiang County. The nearest Wangjiang village is only three kilometers away.

Two months after the Fukushima mess, former Wangjiang County Party Committee deputy secretary Wang Jinzhou , former county people's court chief justice Fang Guangwen,  former county people's congress deputy director Tao Guoxiang, and former urban-rural construction bureau director Wang Jize began collecting public materials on the Pengze plant. They then checked this information against national construction standards and regulations.

 In July 2011, they completed an 11-page petition that called for the project to be halted and sent it to the State Council, the Ministry of Environmental Protection, the Anhui provincial government and the county government. The petition said the population data in application materials related to the Pengze facility was falsified, seismic data was unreliable and gifts were used to bribe villagers during a survey of public opinion.

The group first sent its petition to the county government. But it took no position until two organizations leading the project – the Jiangxi National Defense Science and Industry Office and China Power Investment Jiangxi – arrived in Wangjiang in August 2011 to undertake safety research and ask the county to provide geographic data. Fang said that it was at this juncture that the county for the first time expressed its opposition to building the plant in its vicinity. The county refused to provide the data.

Then, the Wangjiang government researched the plant more, and on November 15, 2011, it completed a report that requested the project be called off. The county government gave its report to the Anhui Energy Bureau. But several months later, the county government had not received a response. Only when the document was linked to on a microblog, causing widespread concern, did the bureau say the county's report had been forwarded to National Development and Reform Commission, the nation's top economic planner. The NDRC has not commented.

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