China has maintained strict standards of nuclear safety under growing pressure as it becomes a leading global player in the atomic energy industry, the national environmental watchdog said on April 19.
The nation currently has 30 nuclear reactors in operation and 26 under construction, which is the largest portfolio of nuclear facilities being built worldwide, said Chen Jining, minister of environmental protection.
Six nuclear reactors went online in China in 2015, and authorities issued permits that allowed construction to begin on eight others.
But observers have cautioned that the rapid development of nuclear energy might increase pressure on those responsible for ensuring the security of such facilities, Chen said on April 19.
The minister was speaking during a national meeting about safety management. He said that nuclear safety has always been a priority for the ministry and other authorities, and noted that China has established a good record over many decades.
Chen said none of China’s nuclear plants has had a significant emergency. Events related to radiation have continued to decline, from about 2.5 events per 10,000 radiation sources annually in the 11th Five-Year Plan (2006-10) to less than one event in recent years, the minister said.
China will also take effective steps to deal with the growing pressure from the fast proliferation of the nuclear power industry and from aging facilities so that safety is assured, said Li Ganjie, vice-minister of environmental protection and head of the National Nuclear Safety Administration, who also spoke at the conference.
Steps include issuing new laws on nuclear safety, he said.