China boosts handling of nuke emergencies

Updated: 2013-07-04 01:43

By Zhao Lei (China Daily)

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The country's nuclear emergency response system has successfully addressed several incidents over the past five years, Ma said. He said Chinese professionals proved their ability through their handling of the negative impacts on China's nuclear power industry brought about by the devastating earthquake in Sichuan province in 2008 and the meltdown at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant in Japan in 2011.

To improve China's capability of handling nuclear emergencies, Ma's administration has allocated nearly 1 billion yuan ($163 million) to found four national technical support centers and six emergency response and rescue units. He added the administration is also working on the constitution of a national nuclear emergency response and rescue team.

In 2009, China carried out its first national-level nuclear emergency response exercise. In addition, more than 300 drills were conducted by provincial authorities and station operators during the past several years.

Yao Bin, director of the nuclear emergency response and safety department at the authority, said ministries and departments have joined in forming a comprehensive and well-coordinated response framework.

"For instance, the Ministry of Environmental Protection has built a systematic nuclear and radioactive monitoring network and the National Health and Family Planning Commission has shaped a treatment system for acute radiation syndrome," he said.

Liu Senlin, associate president of the China Institute of Atomic Energy, said China has at least 60 nuclear and radioactive monitoring vehicles and boasts a full-scale, competent emergency detection system.

Moreover, the government is serious about the disposal of nuclear waste and is able to make sure that all waste generated by nuclear power plants can be properly and securely processed, according to Pan Ziqiang, director of the science and technology commission at the China National Nuclear Corp.

"China has two near-surface repositories where it disposes of low- and intermediate-level radioactive waste and will construct a third one in the near future," he said.

"The government has also introduced a disposal facility for high-level radioactive waste and is looking for a suitable location to establish an underground laboratory to further research high-level radioactive waste."

In response to concerns from the public on the safety of nuclear plants, Chai Guohan, chief engineer at the Ministry of Environmental Protection's nuclear and radiation safety center, said China has learned lessons from other countries' experience operating nuclear reactors and spares no effort to improve the safety of its nuclear industry.

He suggested the government raise the public awareness of the country's nuclear industry and its excellent safety record.


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