Caixin
Sep 20, 2016 09:25 AM
BUSINESS & TECH

China to Get Community Feedback on All Nuclear Projects

(Beijing)— The Chinese government plans to issue new rules making it mandatory for developers of all nuclear projects to solicit public comments before selecting a construction site.

The decision follows a string of protests that have derailed projects.

Expert debates and public hearings about possible nuclear plants and radioactive waste-recycling centers are now required before developers finalize a site for development or submit plans for official approval, according to draft regulations published Monday by the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) and the National Energy Administration.

China's atomic ambitions have grown in recent years as it plans to generate a fifth of its national energy supply using non-fossil fuels by 2030. The Chinese mainland has 36 operating nuclear reactors, and another 20 are under construction, the International Atomic Energy Agency said. Zheng Mingguang, a deputy general manager of State Nuclear Power Technology Corp. said earlier this month that another 30 reactors are in the planning stages and may be built within the next five years.

The draft rules were released a month after a Chinese city suspended preliminary work on a proposed $15 billion nuclear waste processing plant following protests by local residents over concerns about health risks.

Thousands of residents took to the streets of Lianyungang, a port city in eastern Jiangsu province, in early August, to oppose the facility because the local government had kept the project under wraps without disclosing much information – leading to misunderstandings, a Caixin reporter found.

The lack of transparency and low levels of public awareness about the pros of cons of nuclear technology have affected others projects. In 2013, authorities shelved a plan to build a uranium processing plant in Heshan, Guangdong province, amid protests by angry residents.

Regulators were considering letting provincial and regional governments carry out surveys to gauge community resistance to planned nuclear projects, the guidelines showed.

The draft is open for public comment until Oct. 19, but it is not clear when the rules will come into effect. The guidelines for nuclear project approval have been in the making for eight years.

Contact reporter Li Rongde (rongdeli@caixin.com); editor Poornima Weerasekara (poornima@caixin.com)

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