China plans to have completed the assembly of a national nuclear emergency response team by the end of 2018, an official overseeing the nation’s nuclear power industry said.
The team will have 320 professionals in six squads and will be designated to handle serious nuclear accidents and take part in overseas operations, Wang Yiren, deputy director of China Atomic Energy Authority, told reporters on the sidelines of a plenary conference of the National Nuclear Emergency Coordination Commission that was held in Beijing on May 24.
“The work to establish the team has begun, and the government plans to invest around 600 million yuan ($91.6 million) in it,” Wang said, adding that the six squads will be responsible for command and technical support, handling emergencies, engineering work, monitoring, and radiation prevention and decontamination.
Currently there are 25 nuclear emergency teams with more than 1,300 personnel that are managed by several government departments and State-owned nuclear power companies, he said, adding that it is necessary to form a national team to respond to severe accidents.
“We have appointed the team’s commanders and the six squad heads, while their subordinates will be selected from existing nuclear emergency forces,” Wang said.
China has 30 reactors in operation with a total installed capacity of 28.3 gigawatts, and 24 more under construction, according to the authority. It said that last year eight reactors became operational, and work started on six new ones.
At present, nuclear power contributes about 2 percent of China’s electricity, statistics from the China Electricity Council show.
In addition to the manpower buildup, the government will improve communication and coordination mechanisms among nuclear-related authorities and enterprises, and will speed up legislation on nuclear energy and nuclear security, Wang said.
“We also plan to develop specific equipment such as remotely controlled robots and emergency power supplies for the task forces,” he said.
The central government released a white paper called China’s Nuclear Emergency Preparedness, the first of its kind, in January.