China Prepares New Nuclear Power Safety Rules, May Resume Building Soon

China's Ministry of Environmental Protection 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 they go online again.

In a statement on its Web site, the ministry said the new regulation that outlines rules and goals for nuclear safety up through 2020 is almost done with a few minor revisions left and will soon be submitted 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 , told 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 said. But it will not be published until the State Council approves the law.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," said 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 central 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 many nations to review their nuclear development plans.

China, the world's biggest energy user, is constantly 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 dogged by 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 said it aimed 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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