A plan for a “showcase” nuclear fuel processing and equipment manufacturing center in Guangdong Province is the latest illustration of China’s determination to press ahead with a massive expansion of nuclear power despite Japan’s Fukushima disaster.
On Friday, the Chinese project was also emerging as the latest target of NIMBY activism among the country’s middle classes.
Residents in the southern city of Jiangmen took to the streets Friday to protest plans by China National Nuclear Corp. and China Guangdong Nuclear Power Group to build facilities that would process uranium. A Jiangmen government statement on July 3 (in Chinese) described plans for a one-stop, world-class nuclear fuel processing facility that would cost more than 30 billion yuan ($4.8 billion) and eventually emerge as an “Asian showcase for nuclear fuel processing and related equipment manufacturing.”
Some experts say energy hungry China has little choice but to develop nuclear power. China has 17 nuclear power reactors in operation, 28 being built and more nearing the start of construction, according to figures from the World Nuclear Association.
Moreover, China is increasingly self-sufficient in reactor design and construction, as well as aspects of the fuel cycle that are part of the process slated for development in Guangdong. The Guangdong plant has an advertised uranium enrichment capacity of 7,000 metric tons annually by 2020, the association says.
The Jiangmen demonstration, which an official in the municipal propaganda office said drew 800 to 1,000 people, had an impact. The officer, who declined to give his name, said authorities decided Friday to extend a public comment period by another 10 days. It was to have expired Saturday, and now will have 10 more days tacked on, the official said, requesting that citizens keep in mind China’s laws.
Read more at ‘No Nukes’ China’s Latest NIMBY Protest