China Lays Down Rules on Nuclear Power Plant Safety to Resume Soon

The Ministry of Environmental Protection of China has finally come up with a set of draft safety rules to ensure not only the efficiency but also safety of the country's nuclear plants once it goes online again.

In a statement on its website, China's environmental protection ministry said the new nuclear power safety regulation that outlines rules and goals for nuclear safety by 2020 is almost done with a still few minor revisions. It is ready for submission to the State Council.

"Technically, all conditions would be met after the State Council approves this new safety regulation," Zhao Chengkun, vice president of the China Nuclear Energy Association , said in Bloomberg News. "I think it's good news for China's nuclear industry."

Many of the new safety rules are tougher than earlier versions, Zhao noted. But it will not be published until the State Council approves the law.

Once China's State Council stamps its approval on the nuclear safety guidelines, the country's nuclear projects most likely will immediately resume operations. Approvals to facilitate new nuclear projects may also be fast-tracked.

Operators of China's various nuclear power plants welcomed the latest development, regardless of their long wait.

"The central government has its own pace to process the matter," Steven Lau, first deputy general manager of Daya Bay Nuclear Power Operations and Management Co. "The new safety standards will be in place for decades to come, so it's worth taking a longer time to figure everything out."

Daya Bay Nuclear Power operates six reactors in Guangdong's Daya Bay. It plans to add two more reactors and hopes government will approve.

The federal government discontinued approvals of atomic reactors in the country following the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami in Japan that damaged the Fukushima Dai-Ichi nuclear plant. The subsequent radiation leak prompted nations to review their respective nuclear development plans.

China, the world's biggest energy user, is on a continuous manhunt, scouting for approaches and methods, to address its electric power shortages. Its economic growth over the past decade led it to become the world's largest electricity consumer. However, China's zooming growth has put increasing stress on the nation's electrical generation grid. Since April, Chinese power plants have been battling electric power shortages due to increasing demand, higher coal prices and a drought in southern China diminishing hydroelectric electrical output.

Meanwhile, Zhao said the National Energy Administration is also drafting a separate 10-year nuclear power development plan that sets goals for atomic capacity by 2020.

China started operating its first commercial nuclear plant in 1994. At present, it is building 27 reactors with 50 more in the pipeline.

Last year, the National Energy Administration the country wanted to install 70 gigawatts of nuclear capacity by end of the decade. This may be scaled down to between 60 gigawatts and 70 gigawatts.

Read more:

China Resumes Nuclear Plant Construction By Yearend

The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.

The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.

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