China approves more nuclear reactors in bid to stave off pollution

China’s State Council has approved the construction of two nuclear reactors at the Hongyan River power plant in the north-eastern province of Liaoning. They will be the fifth and sixth to be built at that plant.

Environmental pollution is a blight on people’s quality of life and a trouble that weighs on their hearts– Li Keqiang, China’s premier

A source at a state-owned nuclear company told China Daily: "It’s a big step forward for China to revive the industry and more nuclear projects are expected to start construction this year. However, the official documents are yet to be finalised." 

The China Nuclear Society say the people’s republic has 22 reactors in operation and 26 under construction. 

The Fuqing plant in south-eastern Fujian province is another candidate for new-build reactors, according to the source. 

One factor behind the decision to build more third-generation reactors is the need to combat China’s pollution problem. The official Xinhua news agency reported last April that nearly 60% of the country’s groundwater was polluted and a documentary by journalist Chai Jing on the effects of smog in Beijing was viewed 100 million times over the weekend.

The Hongyan River power plant

Li Keqiang, China’s premier, said: "Environmental pollution is a blight on people’s quality of life and a trouble that weighs on their hearts. We must fight it with all our might." 

China aims to have 58GW of nuclear power in operation by 2020, which will require it to approve an average of six to eight reactors each year. Atomic energy currently accounts for 2% of China’s total power supply.  

Photograph: Pollution over China’s Great Wall (Wikimedia Commons)

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