Public opposition defuses nuclear plans

Updated: 2013-08-23 08:09

By Qiu Quanlin (China Daily)

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An ideal location

Heshan is an ideal place to process nuclear fuel, given its close proximity to nuclear power stations in South China's coastal area, according to CNNC sources.

By contrast, the two existing nuclear fuel-processing plants are located in the downtown areas of Baotou city in the Inner Mongolia autonomous region and Yibin city in Sichuan province.

The NDRC rules came into being after several large projects were halted in the past few years as a result of vocal opposition from residents. For example, in October, a decision was taken to shelve plans to build a 55.8 billion-yuan petrochemical plant in Ningbo, Zhejiang province. The decision to halt the Zhejiang refinery was, to some extent, connected with the requirements set by the NDRC, according to local officials.

"The fact that the public opposed the project was a sign that the evaluation process was inadequate," said Han.

Early reports said that the project was still in the early-planning stage and the Ningbo government had planned to conduct an environmental impact assessment and a public survey on the risk to social stability.

Although the local government said the project had met "the most stringent discharge standards and would not pose a threat to the environment", residents demonstrated for days because they were concerned about the potential for pollution.

In a separate incident, the NDRC ordered the developers of a planned steel mill in Anhui province to conduct a social stability risk assessment, even though an environmental assessment had been completed and the project was well on the way to being given the green light.

Prior to the new NDRC regulations, which only apply to top-level investment projects, some local governments had already introduced similar rules.

For example, the authorities in Guangdong introduced a similar mechanism in 2011, requiring that proposals for large local projects must always include an assessment of the risk to social stability.

The southern province has seen a decline in mass disturbances in the past two years, and now only around 1,500 such cases occur annually, according to sources with the Guangdong political and legislative affairs committee.