China rethinks nuclear power one year after crisis in Japan

Updated: 2012-03-13 11:04


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BEIJING - China must fully evaluate risks and define an accountability system when approving nuclear power projects, as the world has drawn profound lessons from Japan's Fukushima nuclear crisis, a lawmaker and academician said.

"The risk factor must be taken into account at the very beginning of a plan to build a nuclear power station, because potential risks at nuclear power stations are inevitable," said Xue Yusheng, a deputy to China's top legislature and the honorary president of State Grid Electric Power Research Institute.

In an interview with Xinhua on the sidelines of the annual parliamentary session, Xue joined a fresh wave of calls emphasizing safety in developing nuclear power projects in China, as Japan marked one year since a massive earthquake and tsunami triggered one of the worst nuclear crises in human history at the Fukushima nuclear power station.

"The development of nuclear power matters to national welfare and the people's livelihood," Xue said. "Thus, we can't come up with plans that view nuclear disaster only as a small probability and without preparation measures."

According to Xue, who is a member of the Chinese Academy of Engineering, any kind of power generation has its own disadvantages, and, for the sake of energy security, China, a big energy consumer, should not give up nuclear power.

"To ensure energy security, we have to take some potential risks and should not avoid the use of nuclear power," Xue said.

The academician stressed that a cautious attitude with an explicit understanding of potential risks would be the key to developing nuclear power in China.

He called for improvement in the country's nuclear power management mechanism and for the establishment of an accountability system that could identify the party responsible for any accident that might occur.

The Chinese government is likely to resume the examination and approval of nuclear power station projects this year, Wang Binghua, chairman of the State Nuclear Power Technology Corporation Ltd., said Saturday.

China suspended approving new nuclear power projects and launched nationwide safety inspections at nuclear power stations and facilities in operation and under construction over safety concerns after the Fukushima nuclear crisis.

Earlier last week, Zhao Qizheng, a spokesman for China's top political advisory body's annual session, said China will develop nuclear power under "extremely safe" preconditions after drawing lessons from the Fukushima nuclear accident.