China’s nuclear power development maintains high-level safety: white paper

China’s nuclear power development maintains high-level safety: white paper

BEIJING, Sept. 3 (Xinhua) — China’s nuclear power development has been safe and efficient in terms of nuclear technology use, nuclear material control, public health and environment protection, according to a white paper released by the State Council Information Office Tuesday.

Titled “Nuclear Safety in China,” the white paper said that China has maintained a good nuclear safety record for a long time — it ranks among the highest of all countries in terms of nuclear power safety operation indicators. Its safety level in the use of nuclear technology continues to improve, its nuclear material control is strong, and public health and environmental safety are fully guaranteed.

In 2000, 2004, 2010 and 2016, the International Atomic Energy Agency conducted four comprehensive reviews of China’s nuclear and radiation safety regulation, giving full recognition to China’s good practices and experiences, the white paper said.

SAFE, EFFICIENT NUCLEAR POWER DEVELOPMENT

In accordance with the concept of multiple protective barriers and defense-in-depth, and with the aim of ensuring that they are completely safe and reliable, China uses the most advanced technology and the most stringent standards for the development of nuclear power, and strictly manages the entire life cycle of nuclear facilities from siting, design, construction, and operation to decommissioning.

Since 1985, when the first nuclear power plant on the Chinese mainland, the Qinshan Nuclear Power Plant, began construction, China has adopted safe and reliable reactor technology, and learned from the experiences and lessons of major nuclear accidents abroad to make safety improvements.

After more than 30 years, China has achieved independent design, construction and operational capability in nuclear power, and entered a new stage of safe and efficient development.

China took the lead in the construction and operation of the GW-class pressurized water reactor, AP1000, using advanced passive safety systems, and the European advanced pressurized water reactor, EPR. The Hualong-1 nuclear reactor, a product of independent research and development, ranks among the highest in the world in terms of safety design, the white paper said.

By June 2019, China had 47 nuclear power units in operation, ranking third in the world, and 11 nuclear power units under construction, ranking first in the world.

The performance indicators of nuclear power units are generally good. In the comprehensive ranking of similar units of the World Association of Nuclear Operators (WANO) in recent years, operating units in China have performed above the world median for more than 80 percent of the indicators, and have reached the world advanced level for more than 70 percent of the indicators. In 2018, China led the world with 12 operating units achieving full marks in WANO composite index, according to the white paper.

SAFE OPERATION OF OTHER KEY NUCLEAR FACILITIES

Based on its own strength and drawing on advanced international experience, China has designed and developed research reactors such as high-temperature gas-cooled reactors, fast reactors, small nuclear power reactors, molten salt reactors, and transmutation devices, according to the white paper.

Nineteen operating civil research reactors and critical assemblies maintain safe and stable operation. “We have implemented the strategy of a closed nuclear fuel cycle and gradually established a complete nuclear fuel cycle system, including uranium mining and metallurgy, uranium conversion, uranium enrichment, processing of nuclear fuel elements, spent fuel reprocessing, and treatment and disposal of radioactive waste,” the white paper said.

Eighteen civil nuclear fuel cycle facilities and two low- and intermediate-level radioactive solid waste disposal sites have a good safety record, according to the white paper.

CLASSIFICATION, SAFE DISPOSAL OF RADIOACTIVE WASTE

China implements radioactive waste classification: near-surface or medium-depth disposal of low- and intermediate-level radioactive waste in locations that meet the requirements of nuclear safety, and deep geological disposal of high-level radioactive waste in centralized locations, according to the white paper.

To ensure permanent safety, nuclear facility operating organizations and radioactive waste disposal organizations carry out minimization and decontamination of radioactive waste in accordance with the law.

All provinces and equivalent administrative units have built urban radioactive waste repositories for centralized storage and proper disposal of radioactive waste produced by nuclear technology.

“We will continue to promote the safe storage and treatment of spent fuel, enhance our capacity in the treatment and disposal of radioactive waste, carry out the decommissioning and environmental restoration of uranium mining and metallurgical facilities, and standardize the environmental management of waste rock, waste water, tailings and slag in uranium mining and metallurgy, so as to ensure that radiation is maintained at safe levels,” the white paper said.

MARKEDLY IMPROVED SAFETY IN USE OF NUCLEAR TECHNOLOGY

China implements dynamic management of radioactive sources from cradle to grave, and brings all source-related units into the scope of government regulation, the white paper said.

“We have established a national database for the management of nuclear technology utilization, taken measures to enhance the safety of radioactive sources, realized the real-time online monitoring of high-risk mobile sources, and improved the safety level of nuclear technology utilization,” the white paper said.

As of this June, 142,607 radioactive sources and 181,293 radiation-emitting devices were in use in China, and a total of 73,070 units were engaged in the production, sale and use of radioisotopes and radiation-emitting devices.

One hundred percent of radioactive sources and radiation-emitting devices are subject to licensing management, and 100 percent of waste radioactive sources are safely stored.

The annual incidence of radiation accidents from radioactive sources has continued to decline, from 6.2 per 10,000 sources in the 1990s to less than one per 10,000 sources at present, the lowest level in history, according to the white paper.

UPGRADED NUCLEAR SECURITY

China regards nuclear security as an important protective screen for nuclear safety and controls nuclear materials in accordance with the strictest standards, according to the white paper.

Nuclear power plants, nuclear fuel cycle facilities, and radioactive source security systems are in line with international standards.

The rules and regulations are sound and complete, and the mechanisms for non-proliferation and nuclear terrorism prevention are improving.

“We are building a nuclear security system for new nuclear facilities in accordance with the latest international standards, and have invested billions of yuan in special funds to upgrade the security system of the original nuclear facilities, thus greatly strengthening our prevention capabilities,” the white paper said.

To date there have been no incidents of theft, loss or illegal use of nuclear materials, according to the white paper.

GOOD RADIATION ENVIRONMENT QUALITY

The radiation environment monitoring data in China show that the radiation environment quality across the country is within the range of natural environmental radiation, and the activity concentration levels of artificial radionuclides are normal.

Surveillance monitoring data show that radiation in the environment around national nuclear facilities and nuclear technology utilization projects has not changed significantly compared with the level prior to construction, and the individual public dose is far lower than the national limit, according to the white paper.

Source: Xinhua

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