Fangchenggang Nuclear Plant: Full Consideration

 

Fangchenggang Location, Wikimedia Commons - click picture for source

Fangchenggang Location, Wikimedia Commons - click picture for source

[Main Link: chinanews.com via Enorth, Tianjin]

The Fangchenggang nuclear power plant is a project of Guangxi Fangchenggang Nuclear Power Group (广西防城港核电有限公司), a joint venture between China Guangdong Nuclear Power Co. (CGNPC, 广东核电集团有限公司) and Guangxi Investment Group (广西投资集团有限公司), and co-funded by a syndicate of Chinese banks and financial institutions, according to world nuclear news (wnn, London). CGNPC’s stake is reportedly 61 percent, and Guangxi Investment Group’s at 39 percent respectively. The National Development and Reform Commission (国家发展和改革委员会) approved construction in summer 2010, according to wnn’s report, which also reported that the project’s total investment was  expected somewhere near 70 billion yuan by August last year. The current first phase of construction appears to require much less investment:

The cost of constructing Phase I is 25 billion yuan ($3.7 billion). Some 87% of the equipment to be used in the Phase I units is expected to be sourced from Chinese suppliers. The first unit is scheduled to begin operating in 2015, while the second will start up in 2016.

Guangxi Fangchenggang Nuclear Power Group told a Xinhua [update, June 9, 2011: or a China News / 中新网 – JR] reporter on Wednesday that the power plant’s construction won’t be affected by the current Fukushima nuclear power plant accident (福岛核电站事故), and that there would be no delays in the project. The plant is scheduled to begin commercial operation in 2015, according to the article. Addressing possible concerns, the article continues:

Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region’s Development and Reform Commission officials revealed that after the Fukushima accident, the state council had conducted [correction: rather than conducted, it reads  “put forward” or “advanced”, (提出) – JR, 2011-03-24] a comprehensive investigation of the [Fangchenggang] nuclear facilities, strengthened safety management of the facilities, reviewed the site, strictly examined and approved the requirements on new projects. The Fangchenggang nuclear power project was fully in accordance with these requirements, and by own initiative, another inspection had been carried out after the Fukushima matter, to guarantee that there was no danger of anything going wrong (万无一失, wàn wú yī shī).

Project staff is quoted with more technical remarks, such as that the Fangchenggang plant is based on more advanced technology than Fukushima I [Fukushima I had first been commissioned in 1971, according to Wikipedia – JR].

Fangchenggang nuclear power plant had said that various factors were being taken into account to guarantee safety.

Full consideration of earthquakes and other natural disasters’ influence had been given to the choice of location, in the fold of Qinzhou, which was an area with the earth’s crust being comparatively stable; also considered had been  plane crashes, external explosions, tornados (龙卷风), etc.. Large-scale tsunamis also weren’t to be expected, but for safety reasons, tsunamis (海啸, hǎi xiào) and other waves due to storms had still been factored into the design. The last factor mentioned is the securing of electricity supplies to the plant’s safetey facilities in emergency situations.

According to the company, contingency and emergency plans had also been devised, with exclusion zones of five, ten, and more kilometers, equipment for such cases would be  ready to hand, and emergency drills would be conducted regularly to ensure that the public would be evacuated in time, in case of an accident.

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Related
Fangchenggang article by Wikipedia
Reactions to the Fukushima I Disaster, March 15, 2011
Alstom press release, March 2, 2011
Mitsubishi  press release, Nov 17, 2010
To start by 2014, China Daily, Dec 24, 2009

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7 Responses to “Fangchenggang Nuclear Plant: Full Consideration”

  1. A 2015 start date for a proposed nucleur reactor.Raises a really big red flag to my mind.

    Look at the safety issues existing in the graft ridden, high speed rail links.http://english.caing.com/2011-02-28/100229673.html

    Even a basic knowledge of construction quality issues and the outsourcing tango played out in China should scare the locals there to a premature death.

    Timely collation of info here, JR.

  2. Looking at the nuclear industry, and especially the energy supplying corporations in Germany who are operating the plants here, whose default modus seem to be salami techniques in their communications with the public whenever an incident occurs, I’m not very confident about China’s civil-nuclear safety. (The Fukushima 1 operators’ CEOs appeared to be completely confused about the situation at their plant, btw.) Secrecy seems to have been the industry’s second nature during the past decades, in many or all places across the globe.

    When reading the stories I linked to, you’ll see that Fangchenggang is only a small portion of what is going to connect to the gridlines during the next ten years, and beyond.
    I think it’s hard to assess the real mood in China, given that strategic issues will hardly be a matter of independent opinion polls, although I have a hunch that most frankly-speaking cabbies would still tell me how important nuclear energy is for development and prosperity.

    Without much technical knowledge of myself, I do think that the article has a point in that Fangchenggang is based on tech quite different from Fukushima I – but the devil is in the details, and I don’t think that Chinese construction is doing great when it comes to details.

    Thanks for your comment! It’s discussion which helps most to get contents right. When reading yours, I started wondering about how clearly the state council would apparently be involved in the safety approval procedures, and checked the article again. In fact, they only said that the state council “put forward” another comprehensive safety check.

    The actual procedures seem to be entirely conducted by local and regional administrations. The (in fact rather cautious and indirect) invocation of central power by the operators looks like a confidence-building propaganda measure, and the state council certainly tries to make sure that their hands won’t get too dirty, in case that something will go wrong regionally. Many Chinese nationals appear to have a naive trust in the central government – as if only local cadres were corrupt, and as if the incumbent central party and government officials hadn’t once been local cadres.

  3. JR Adding to this discussion.

    “China has 13 operating nuclear reactors producing nearly 2 percent of its total power output, but there are another 27 reactors under construction, 50 more planned and more than 100 proposed. With new reactors coming every year, China is aiming for a tenfold increase in its nuclear generating capacity by 2020, with rapid growth projected to continue until 2050.”

    Turning to oversight:

    “Regulatory body needs bodies, teeth
    Under the State Council’s order, power plants and other nuclear facilities that are operational or under construction will be inspected, said Zhou. But the new standards will be imposed only on plants that have either not yet been approved or have not advanced beyond site preparation.

    Significantly, the nuclear oversight body also is limited both in technical capacity and clout in the Chinese government hierarchy, she said.

    “The National Nuclear Safety Administration is a division of the Ministry of Environmental Protection in China, several steps removed from the State Council. On the other hand, the state-owned nuclear power companies — China Guangdong Nuclear Power Group and China National Nuclear Corp. — report directly to the council”.

    There is more of the same in this article, all of which effectively points to piss poor and convoluted oversight arrangements.

    It also contains a photo of a concrete pour at a nucleur reactor being constructed in Fuqiang in Fujian. Now I’ve been to Fujiang, and it is a byword, even by China standards, for corruption in every shape and form. Can see it sinking into its foundations before it even goes online.

  4. Thanks for the MSNBC link, KT.

    Re your first comment, of Wednesday: Liu Zhijun, the Minister of Railways, was of course an easy target. There are people enough who have issues with the railway system in general – beyond the high-speed one – anyway.
    Maybe Liu was fired and detained exactly for the faults Caijing mentions – but then again, he had simply lost too many allies in the bureaucracy, and it was time to fire a somewhat high-level bureaucrat anyway. It certainly was a good time to show to the people how much the party cares about their worries.

    I’m not saying that Caixin is wrong – but if there was no serious accident before Liu got sacked, I’d think that the main motivations were political, not technical. Otherwise, they could fire a real lot of people.

    But once we’ll see investigative reports on central government level before someone is sacked, rather than once he’s in a sorry state anyway, I’ll feel somewhat better about nuclear fuel in China.

    Promised:
    JR

  5. Footnbotes, my latest comment:

    he had simply lost too many allies in the bureaucracy is lacking a “maybe” at the beginning.

    And the paper’s name is Caixin, not to be confused with Caijing

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