IAEA praises China's nuclear power progress
China has made notable achievements in the safety of nuclear power generation and its regulatory framework, according to an International Atomic Energy Agency review.
The IAEA review team announced its findings at a joint news briefing with the Ministry of Environmental Protection in Beijing on Thursday.
Ramzi Jammal, leader of the review team and chief regulatory operation officer at the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission, praised the progress in nuclear safety regulation and the efforts in increasing the human and financial resources made since 2010.
China is also working on strengthening the legal framework for these efforts with a Nuclear Safety Act, which is expected to be submitted to the top legislative body for a first read by the end of this year, said Liu Hua, chief engineer of nuclear security of the Ministry of Environmental Protection.
In a news release accompanying the briefing, Greg Rzentkowski, director of IAEA's Division of Nuclear Installation Safety, said China had "demonstrated a strong commitment to invest and innovate in nuclear safety to meet infrastructure development challenges posed by its expanding nuclear power program."
After its review in 2010, the IAEA made 79 recommendations and suggestions for improvements to China's nuclear power program. All but eight of those had been satisfactorily accomplished, the agency found in its latest review.
The eight remaining items focused on aspects such as adopting a Nuclear Safety Act, making a long-term policy for the radioactive waste, and improving the research on recycling the nuclear waste.
"We have made the plans targeted by each of these issues and take the suggestions and recommendations from the follow-up review seriously to improve the security," said Liu.
At present, China has 32 nuclear reactors in operation at power plants, but the number is expected to reach 90 by 2020. Along with this expansion are plans to increase the capacity for storage of nuclear waste.
China already has three tanks to store the low-level radioactive waste, and five more are planned, said Liu.
Within five to 10 years, China will build an underground laboratory to deal with the high-level radioactive waste, he said, adding that the authority will further tighten the management of radioactive waste.
China has grown into a global leader in nuclear power utilization in its pursuit of green growth with expansion of clean energy and reduction of greenhouse gases emission.
Currently, China has 32 nuclear power reactors in operation and another 24 under construction, the highest number in the world.