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China to the rescue?

Nuclear Monitor Issue: 

China's nuclear power program grew rapidly before the Fukushima disaster … then slowed for a few years as the implications of the disaster were assessed … then picked up pace … then slowed once again. Currently, China has 45 operable power reactors (43 gigawatts (GW) capacity) and 13 under construction (12.8 GW).

The most likely outcome over the next 5‒10 years is that a small number of new reactor projects will be approved each year, well short of previous projections and not nearly enough to match the decline in the rest of the world.

China's National Energy Administration said in March 2018 that by the end of the year, announcements would be made about sites for the construction of 6‒8 new nuclear reactors, ending a two-year freeze on new starts.1 That didn't eventuate. Perhaps announcements will be made this year.

Mycle Schneider, coordinator of the World Nuclear Industry Status Reports, noted in a January 2019 article:2

"While China has accounted for 35 of 59 units started up in the world over the past decade and has another dozen reactors under construction, the country has not opened any new construction site for a commercial reactor since December 2016 (a demonstration fast breeder reactor not comparable to a commercial project was launched in December 2017). The nuclear industry is awaiting a central government decision over future technology choices and project siting. Construction is expected to be relaunched during the year 2019. However, there is no official government statement as to timing and ambition of future nuclear planning."

Former World Nuclear Association executive Steve Kidd noted in an August 2018 article that the growth of renewables in China "dwarf the nuclear expansion".3 Kidd wrote.

"Many of the negative factors which have affected nuclear programmes elsewhere in the world are now also equally applicable in China. Despite many new reactors starting up, it is clear that the programme has continued to slow. The most obvious sign of this is the lack of approvals for new construction starts. There have been no new approvals for approaching three years, so the number of reactors under construction has been falling sharply. Other indications of trouble are uncertainties about the type of reactor to be utilised in the future, the position of the power market, the structure of the industry with its large state-owned enterprises (SOEs), the degree of support from state planners and the level of public opposition to nuclear plans. ...

"Perhaps surprisingly, a big issue today affecting the Chinese nuclear programme is its economic viability. With nuclear power only currently representing 3-4% of China's electricity supply, one would think that there is still plenty of room for dramatic growth. However, the slowing of the Chinese economy and the switch to less energy-intensive activities, together with over-investment in power generation capacity, means that there is now more than can be carried in the grids in some provinces. It cannot therefore be assumed that new nuclear units will run at the 80-90% capacity factors necessary to pay back the funds invested in their construction.

"Tariffs that producers receive when they sell power to the grid are also under threat. The central government wishes to liberalise the Chinese power sector and make it more responsive to economic criteria and this may not help nuclear. The rising costs of building Gen III units are also a factor. Reactors may have to load-follow, which is not ideal in the technical or economic sense. Nuclear has to compete against other generation options. ...

The threat in China is that nuclear may become no more than a niche, bridging technology, as a route to something better in the future."

Peter Fairley, an MIT Technology Review contributing editor, noted in a December 2018 article:4

"Officially China still sees nuclear power as a must-have. But unofficially, the technology is on a death watch. Experts, including some with links to the government, see China's nuclear sector succumbing to the same problems affecting the West: the technology is too expensive, and the public doesn't want it.

"The 2011 meltdown at Japan's Fukushima Daiichi plant shocked Chinese officials and made a strong impression on many Chinese citizens. A government survey in August 2017 found that only 40% of the public supported nuclear power development.

"The bigger problem is financial. Reactors built with extra safety features and more robust cooling systems to avoid a Fukushima-like disaster are expensive, while the costs of wind and solar power continue to plummet: they are now 20% cheaper than electricity from new nuclear plants in China, according to Bloomberg New Energy Finance. Moreover, high construction costs make nuclear a risky investment.

"And gone are the days when nuclear power was desperately needed to meet China's soaring demand for electricity. In the early 2000s, power consumption was growing at more than 10% annually as the economy boomed and manufacturing, a heavy user of electricity, expanded rapidly. Over the past few years, as growth has slowed and the economy has diversified, power demand has been growing, on average, at less than 4%. …

"The government has lately said little about nuclear policy. Its official target, last updated in 2016, calls for 58 gigawatts of nuclear generating capacity to be installed by 2020 and for another 30 GW to be under construction. All experts agree China won't reach its 2020 goal until 2022 or later, and pre-Fukushima projections of 400 GW or more by midcentury now look fanciful."


1. Dan Yurman, 2 April 2018, 'China to start building 6-8 new nuclear reactors in 2018',

2. Mycle Schneider, 3 Jan 2019, 'World Nuclear Industry Status as of 1 January 2019',

3. Steve Kidd, 1 Aug 2018, 'Nuclear in China – where is it heading now?',

4. Peter Fairley, 12 Dec 2018, 'China's losing its taste for nuclear power. That's bad news.',

A double first for China as Taishan EPR and Sanmen AP1000 connect to the grid

Nuclear Monitor Issue: 
World Nuclear Industry Status Report

The Chinese nuclear program scored a double world first in the space of 24 hours, when on 29 June 2018, Taishan-1, the first European/Evolutionary Pressurized Water Reactor (EPR), was connected to the grid1, followed on 30 June 2018 by Sanmen-1, the first AP1000. The startup of these reactors marks an important milestone in the Chinese nuclear program, but they also highlight the overall failure of the nuclear industry's claims and ambitions for the EPR and AP1000 global expansion.

EPR Taishan

The Taishan reactors in Guangdong province are the largest cooperative energy project between China and France. The project is operated by TNPJVC, a joint venture established between CGN (51%), EDF (30%) and the provincial Chinese electricity company Yuedian (19%). The construction of Taishan-1 began in 2009, whilst that of Taishan-2 began in 2010. Both reactors, at that time, were due online in 2013. The two units were respectively the third and fourth EPR reactors to get underway world-wide.

According to CGN, Taishan-1 will now undergo a period of gradual power-up tests. Once the reactor has passed all these exams, it will then be tested in steady-state conditions at full power. Framatome, the EPR vendor, stated: "The successful grid connection of the Taishan 1 nuclear power plant is a historical moment for Framatome and for the whole nuclear industry."2 In December 2017, CGN Power announced that the expected commercial operation of Taishan-2 would be in 2019.3

While successfully achieving grid connection, the Taishan EPR-project has experienced major delays, cost increases, and there remain major unresolved safety issues.

Taishan-1, originally scheduled to be completed in 2013, experienced a revision of this target in 2012 that put completion "in principle" at the end of 2015. Initially the delays at Taishan were due to the knock-on effects from the major delays in the AREVA EPR projects at Olkiluoto in Finland (construction start in 2005) and Flamanville in France (construction start in 2007). However, further delays emerged as result of disclosures of problems in the steel material used in the construction of parts of the pressure vessel, including top and bottom heads, at the Flamanville EPR.

Evidence of major quality control, production and regulatory oversight failure emerged in June 2014 at the AREVA le Creusot Forge steel plant. In addition to the supply of the vessel heads for the Flamanville EPR, the heads for Taishan were also manufactured at le Creusot. The French Nuclear Safety Authority (ASN), described in 2014, how it was challenging to know, what is happening at the Taishan site in contrast to the European EPR projects.4 The issue is fundamental to nuclear plant safety, as excess carbon zones in Category 1 pressurized components increases the risks of fast fracture and rupture.5

In June 2017, ASN reported that the problems with the Flamanville vessel heads could also impact the top and bottom heads at Taishan EPRs, manufactured by le Creusot Forge. In October 2017, the ASN finally granted approval for the vessel heads at Flamanville, but specified that the feasibility of inspections "cannot at present be confirmed for the closure head" of the EPR and "that the current closure head cannot be used beyond 2024."6 Unless AREVA / EDF can demonstrate the integrity of the vessel head, it will require to be replaced only a few years after start up.

In reaction to the news that the metal used in the reactor pressure vessel head and bottom was potentially unsuitable due carbon macrosegregation and reduced toughness, the Chinese government announced that it would not load fuel into the reactor until further investigations had occurred. Tang Bo, a nuclear safety administration official, told the Beijing-based newspaper China Environment News: "Only when problems in reactors… are identified and solved will we allow nuclear fuels to be loaded into the Taishan plant for the first time and for it to begin to operate." However, following the ASN decision, the National Nuclear Safety Administration (NNSA) issued a fuel loading permit for unit 1 in April 2018, it required CGN to develop a testing method for its reactor vessel head "as soon as possible", and that, "if developments fail or test results are unfavourable, the cover shall not be used by the end of April 2025."7

The other major components for Taishan-1 were all imported: the pressure vessel from Mitsubishi Heavy Industries (MHI) of Japan and the steam generators from AREVA (now Framatome) Chalon/St. Marcel in France, for Taishan-2 are all made in China: the pressure vessel by Dongfang Electric Co (DEC), two of the steam generators also by DEC and the other two by Shanghai Electric.

The Taishan EPR has also experienced multiple other problems, many related to the quality and inspection of materials, including welding. In December 2017, a Hong Kong based investigative new agency reported that the steam deaerator in Taishan-1 cracked during testing and had to be replaced.8 At the time, CGN only admitted that there were 'partial defects' in the welding of the deaerator. CGN/EDF had subcontracted the manufacturing of the deaerator to Harbin Boiler, a subsidiary of Hong Kong-listed Harbin Electric.

In terms of EPR Taishan project overall costs, they remain unclear. In 2016, it was reported that CGN's 51 percent share was a total registered capital of 28.6 billion yuan (€3.6 billion). Due to increased construction costs, investment expenditure had increased 30 percent to around US$3,300/kW.9 EDF had invested €1 billion in equity as of June 2018.10


The grid connection of the AP1000 Sanmen-1 in Zhejiang Province, was announced by Westinghouse Electric Company plant owner China State Nuclear Power Technology Corporation (SNPTC) and CNNC Sanmen Nuclear Power Company Limited (SMNPC): "Today, we witness our first AP1000 plant, Sanmen 1, began its process of generating electricity and providing our customers in China with safe, reliable and clean energy," said José Emeterio Gutiérrez, Westinghouse president and chief executive officer.11 He added: "This milestone would not have been possible without the constant collaboration and partnership with our China customer."

Sanmen-1 is the first of a fleet of four new AP1000 plants in eastern China, with Sanmen-2 scheduled to begin operation later in 2018; two units under construction at Haiyang, in Shandong Province, with the reactors scheduled for operation in the coming months for unit 1 and in 2019 for unit 2. All four have experienced delays and cost overruns.

The AP1000s at the Sanmen and Haiyang sites were the very first constructions of this design anywhere in the world. When construction started at Sanmen, the Shaw Group, which was the Westinghouse contractor managing the doomed VC Summer project in South Carolina, but also contracted to work on supply of components to Sanmen stated that looked "to bringing this plant on line as scheduled in 2013." Cost estimates in 2017 indicated that Sanmen and Haiyang were, "over 10 billion Chinese yuan (US$1.5 billion)" over budget.12

The delays and cost overruns at Sanmen and Haiyang prompted one Chinese energy analyst to warn in 2015: "The only way Westinghouse can win contracts in China is to demonstrate they can build reactors quicker and cheaper than anyone else in China's market and win hearts with actions, not words… Westinghouse so far hasn't demonstrated such abilities."13 Five years later than scheduled, the startup of Sanmen-1 makes the prospect of additional AP1000 reactor contracts in China highly uncertain.

Reality of scaled back EPR and AP1000 construction

In 2010, Westinghouse was promoting14 the AP1000, with ambitions for 12 reactors in advanced planning stage, with a further six in China and six in India15. Instead, Westinghouse filed for bankruptcy in 201716, with three AP1000 still under construction in China and two in the U.S, and two cancelled.17 The prospects for additional AP1000s in China remain uncertain, while India has recently announced a large scale-back of its nuclear power plans from a target of 63 GW to 22.4 GW by 2031.18 According to reports these are to be based largely on indigenous Pressurized Heavy Water Reactors (PHRW) and Russian VVER1200 designs.

Similarly, EPR contracts have not materialized. It remains unclear whether the proposed six EPR project will actually move forward, despite the recent signing of a memorandum between France and India.19 AREVA/Framatome's global ambitions for multiple orders for the EPR have failed, with three are remaining under construction, and two are planned in the UK. This is in contrast to the 16-20 EPR's that the company had sought but failed to secure contracts for during the last decade in Canada, Italy, Czech Republic, South Africa, United Arab Emirates, Finland and France, as well as the United States.

Reprinted from World Nuclear Industry Status Report, 2 July 2018,





















The future of nuclear power in China

Nuclear Monitor Issue: 
Carnegie Endowment for International Peace

Mark Hibbs from the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace has written a detailed report on China's nuclear power program. The report's summary and an excerpt from the concluding chapter are reproduced here:

China is on course to lead the world in the deployment of nuclear power technology by 2030. Should it succeed, China will assume global leadership in nuclear technology development, industrial capacity, and nuclear energy governance. The impacts will be strategic and broad, affecting nuclear safety, nuclear security, nonproliferation, energy production, international trade, and climate mitigation. Especially critical is whether China achieves an industrial-scale transition from current nuclear technologies to advanced systems led by fast neutron reactors that recycle large amounts of plutonium fuel.

Uncertainties for nuclear power

China's nuclear power wager might not indefinitely pay high dividends. Until now, the state has boosted the nuclear power industry with incentives that, in the future, may come under pressure. The electric power system is subject to reform in the direction of more transparent oversight and pricing that might disadvantage nuclear investments. President Xi Jinping supports state control of strategic economic sectors, but he also advocates market reforms that have helped lead Western nuclear power industries into crises.

The nuclear sector must withstand what Xi calls "new normal" conditions: a gradual slowing down of China's economy, characterized by diminishing returns on capital goods investments and translating into rising debt and overcapacity. Nuclear investments may be affected by demographics, changes in electricity load profile, and technology innovations including emergence of a countrywide grid system able to wheel bulk power anywhere.

There is also political risk. Public support for nuclear power in China is volatile and may be low. Concerns since the Fukushima Daiichi accident in Japan have prompted Beijing not to proceed with long-established plans to build most of China's future nuclear plants on inland sites. Should this policy continue into the 2020s, prospects for China's nuclear construction sector will decline; indefinitely continuing nuclear construction at eastern coastal sites (where nearly all of China's nuclear power is generated) may encounter resistance on economic, capacity, and political grounds.

Under Xi, China's globalization continues but the state is assuming ever-greater liability. Political decision-making and corporate culture may not support an indefinite increase in the risk presented by more nuclear power investments. Some quasi-official projections before Fukushima that China by 2050 might have 400 or more nuclear power plants have been cut in half. Beijing's risk calculus may reflect that China's population would blame the Communist Party and the state for a severe nuclear accident. In a country with a patchy track record for industrial safety, said one Chinese planning expert in 2016, "The more reactors we have, the greater our liability." 

Opportunities and risks in advanced technologies

Until now, China's impressive nuclear development has relied on technologies invented a half-century ago by others and that China has replicated. During this century, China aims to replace light water nuclear power plants with advanced systems launched elsewhere but never compellingly deployed before. China today is poised to make these investments but lacks deep industrial expertise for some technologies it has selected; to succeed it must effect transitions from R&D to commercial deployment.

China's current heavy nuclear R&D spending must be sustained to succeed since some systems may not be ready for commercial deployment before the 2030s. 

China's nuclear industry must depend on the state to make its nuclear technology transition; Beijing must down-select technologies and decide whether to trust the market to make economic decisions.

Whether China succeeds or fails, the global repercussions will be significant. If China merely replicates others' collective past experience, it will reinforce the view that fast reactors and their fuel cycles are too risky, complex, and expensive to generate large amounts of electricity. If, instead, China clearly succeeds in its ambitions, it may significantly raise the profile of nuclear power toward the twenty-second century. If so, China will deeply influence global rules and understandings governing the risks associated with nuclear power systems.

Conclusions and outlook

Predicting China's future is a fool's errand. Some contemporary authors claim that China will soon collapse, others that China will instead dominate the world.326 No such narratives have captured the imaginations of analysts looking at China's nuclear power system but, based on information available for this report, one could derive two very different speculative boundary scenarios to describe the future of China's nuclear energy program.

If China's nuclear program moves along the trajectory Chinese strategists and scientists set forth three decades ago, perhaps by 2050 China will be operating several hundred power reactors, implementing a transition from PWRs to more advanced nuclear systems, and it may have demonstrated a closed fuel cycle at industrial scale. The government might reach an opaque compromise with stakeholders allowing higher costs for advanced technologies to be shouldered by Chinese taxpayers and ratepayers. China may be the world's leading nuclear exporter thanks to global rulemaking leadership and it may have invested enough in oversight infrastructure to manage its nuclear activities without suffering a severe nuclear safety, security, or proliferation accident. Forced development of nuclear and renewables may have cleaned the air in China's megacities by 2030, and the country may continue to invest in nuclear technology confidently assuming that it will rely on nuclear power for hundreds of years.

Alternately, by 2050, China may instead be preparing to wind down an ageing fleet of about 100 PWRs, having failed to effectively manage costs and overcome the economic, technical, and political challenges of commercially exploiting more promising and complex nuclear technologies. China's nuclear power plants may be threatened with obsolescence as a result of breakthroughs in alternative power generation and storage technologies. Over time, the companies that pioneered China's first big wave of nuclear plant investment in the 2000s and 2010s might not continue to assume the debt that sustained nuclear investment requires, especially if Chinese demand for power approaches the near-zero growth levels that obtain in many Western countries. Human resources may increasingly migrate to other fields, contributing to low nuclear plant availability, nuclear safety problems, lack of public trust, increased regulation, and corporate and government risk aversion.

No one can say whether either of these two possible but perhaps unlikely outcomes will happen because there are formidable unknowns.

Mark Hibbs, 2018, 'The Future of Nuclear Power in China',

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Protests against proposed reprocessing plant in China

Nuclear Monitor Issue: 
Jim Green ‒ Nuclear Monitor editor

Protests erupted against a proposed nuclear reprocessing plant in the Chinese city of Lianyungang on August 6.

Areva and the Chinese government completed negotiations over technical aspects of the reprocessing project in June 2015 and commercial negotiations are ongoing. The 100 billion yuan (US$15b; €13.3b) plant is to be built by China National Nuclear Corp., based on Areva technology. China wants a plant to process 800 tonnes of spent fuel per year, as well as a MOX fuel fabrication plant modelled on Areva's plant in Melox, southern France. The aim is to build the reprocessing plant from 2020 to 2030.

Lianyungang hosts the Tianwan nuclear plant, which has two power reactors and two more under construction. A 2010 survey of 1,616 local residents showed widespread apprehension about the Tianwan plant: 83.5% of respondents said they "worried about improper handling of nuclear waste" at the plant.1

The prospect of a nuclear reprocessing plant in addition to the nuclear power station is clearly a bridge too far for many locals. Thousands participated in protests beginning on Saturday August 6, disregarded warnings from the local government and police that they were breaking the law. Protests extended over several days and at times involved confrontations with police.2

According to the August 10 New York Times: "The biggest protest in Lianyungang took place on Saturday [August 6], when many thousands of people, including families with children, marched through the downtown area. Despite warnings from the government, protests continued on a smaller scale this week, as residents defied ranks of riot officers with shields, according to news reports and video that people shared through social media."3

Meanwhile, citizens used social media platforms to denounce the proposed reprocessing plant while government censors did their best to remove critical comments.

A media publication under the umbrella of the state-funded Shanghai United Media Group gave this account: "On Monday night [August 8], thousands of residents gathered in front of a primary school near Suning Plaza and yelled "Protest, protest!" at SWAT police wearing heavy riot gear and carrying riot shields. Some residents were throwing water bottles in protest of a Sino-French nuclear fuel recycling project allegedly proposed for the city. Protesters said that since Friday, their numbers had grown significantly until SWAT teams moved in on Sunday night to disperse the crowds. ... Videos that were widely circulated on social media showed SWAT police chasing after citizens and violently beat them as they were lying on the ground. Eyewitnesses confirmed the brutal beatings."4

"We don't want this project," said a local citizen. "We worry about whether there will be a leak and whether the technology is good enough to protect people's health."5 Another local citizen said: "It is very important to choose a safe location to deal with nuclear waste since it is radioactive. Lianyungang is located in a seismically active area, and there is already a nuclear waste plant here. It is unsafe to see another nuclear project coming and besieging us."6

In addition to issuing warnings about unauthorized gatherings, the Lianyungang local government also tried to appease citizens. "The Lianyungang Municipal People's Government has decided to suspend site selection and preliminary work on the nuclear recycling project," the local government said. Yet the possibility of pursuing the project in Lianyungang has not been ruled out, with the provincial government saying that "no final decision had been made" on the location of the plant.7 Moreover it is a national project and thus the local government cannot unilaterally suspend or terminate the project.

"Currently, the project is still at the stage of preliminary assessment and comparing potential sites, and nothing has been finally decided," the local government said in an August 8 statement.1

Lianyungang is one of six sites under consideration for the reprocessing plant, and national authorities are concerned that unrest could spread to the other sites under consideration. Of the six sites, all but one ‒ Gansu Province ‒ is a heavily populated coastal province.3 Gansu is already home to China's first civilian nuclear reprocessing plant, a pilot scale facility beset by technical problems.

China's political leaders are wary of local protests escalating into broader challenges to their power. Local governments are increasingly giving ground in the face of growing public opposition to chemical plants, waste incinerators and other potential sources of pollution ‒ and now proposed nuclear projects are becoming increasingly contentious. A series of deadly accidents at industrial sites has heightened public fears and deepened distrust of government. Xiamen University energy policy specialist Lin Boqiang said: "Public concerns can be contagious and spill over to other ­cities, as has been the case with various incinerator and PX [chemical] projects."8

Wenfang Tang, a professor of political science at the University of Iowa, said: "While the Chinese government does not hesitate to arrest the few political dissidents, it spends more time and energy to appease public demands. The high level of government sensitivity and responsiveness to public opinion further encourages political activism in Chinese society. The louder you are, the more quickly the government will respond."3

Just as appeasement can encourage and embolden the citizenry, so too repression carries the risk of escalating public protests. The Financial Times reported:9

"People power ‒ ironically for an authoritarian state ‒ is now seen by the nuclear industry as one of the biggest stumbling blocks to growth. Industry officials point to the precedent of waste incinerators and petrochemical plants that make paraxylene, or PX: local governments have pulled or relocated projects in the face of protests (or in some cases built them in secret behind refinery walls).

"Nuclear industry officials also fret that any attempt to suppress protests with violent policing will lead to a public backlash against the power source. Efforts to keep project planning out of the public eye tend to aggravate public suspicion once a "secret" project becomes known.

"Mao Shoulong, a public policy expert at Renmin University, said the Lianyungang protest would make future nuclear projects more difficult. "Just like the PX protests, if the authorities try to crack down heavy-handedly there will be a huge backlash," he said. "The government should improve its public policy decision-making process and give the public the right to know, by making the policy-making process more transparent and the siting more scientific.""

An emerging anti-nuclear movement?

In July 2013, officials in southern China shelved plans for a nuclear fuel fabrication plant in Guangdong province after more than 1,000 residents protested.10 And in February 2013 a nuclear project in Guangxi Province was reportedly halted due to public opposition.11

Proposals to build inland nuclear power plants have also ignited intense opposition according to the New York Times.3 The Chinese Academy of Engineering has stated that limited water supplies and poor radiation dispersal make the proposed inland sites more dangerous. He Zuoxiu, a retired nuclear physicist, said: "If there's an accident, the environmental impact from an inland nuclear station will be far more serious than one on the coast. Imagine if the Fukushima accident had happened on the course of the Yangtze River. Then how many people would have their food and water contaminated?"12

Li Ning, a nuclear scientist and dean of the School of Energy Research at China's Xiamen University, said last year that 'not in my backyard' protests were on the rise. "So far, it hasn't risen to the level of stopping nuclear, but in some areas it is slowing it down," he said.12 Speaking to Reuters after the recent protests in Lianyungang, Li Ning said that anti-nuclear actions "are happening more frequently, on a larger scale and in a more agitated way."7

Perhaps anti-nuclear protests will achieve nothing more than stopping a few projects and slowing some others, with no significant impact on Beijing's nuclear plans or broader political structures. At the other end of the spectrum, an emerging anti-nuclear movement may coalesce with other forces to challenge not only the nuclear program but China's authoritarian political structures more generally.

Waste management

In December 2010, China National Nuclear Corp. started operating a pilot scale reprocessing facility with a design capacity to process spent fuel containing 50 tonne of heavy metal (uranium and plutonium) per year (50 tHM/yr). But the plant was shut down after a ten-day 'hot test' that revealed numerous safety and security issues.13 There has been discussion that the small plant would be a template for a larger indigenously-designed plant with a capacity of 200 tHM/yr, but that project does not have government approval.14

China could abandon plans for reprocessing and opt for direct disposal of spent fuel. A site in Gansu province has been selected as the primary candidate site for a deep underground repository and exploratory work is underway. In the meantime, spent fuel can be stored at reactor sites and at an interim store adjacent to the pilot reprocessing plant ‒ and storage capacity can be increased as necessary.14

A commercial-scale reprocessing plant will do nothing to help China's nuclear waste storage and disposal issues. If it helped in any way, it would merely be by acting as a spent fuel storage site and obviating the need to increase capacity at existing storage sites. The International Panel on Fissile Material notes: "One major motivation for reprocessing is to provide an off-site destination for spent fuel accumulating at the reactor sites."14 Of course, that aim would be far more easily and cheaply accomplished by simply building a new storage facility instead of a US$15 billion reprocessing plant.

So why reprocess?

Making best use of finite uranium reserves? China is estimated to have over two million tons of potentially economic uranium resources, so even if China's nuclear power program expanded to 400 gigawatts by mid-century ‒ greater than current global nuclear capacity, and 13 times greater than China's current nuclear capacity ‒ only roughly half of the two million tons of uranium resource would be consumed by 2050.14 China's current stockpile of about 300 million pounds15 of refined uranium oxide would suffice to operate its existing reactor fleet for around 20 years. And of course the world is awash with cheap uranium as we've repeatedly discussed in Nuclear Monitor in recent years.16

Reprocessing to facilitate nuclear waste management and disposal? Reprocessing does nothing to reduce radioactivity or toxicity, and the overall waste volume, including low and intermediate level waste, is greatly increased by reprocessing.

Reprocessing in support of a fast neutron (breeder) reactor program? China has a 20 MWe experimental fast reactor (CEFR), which operated for a total of less than one month in the 63 months from criticality in July 2010 to October 2015.17 China also has plans to build a 600 MWe 'Demonstration Fast Reactor' and then a 1,000 MWe commercial-scale fast reactor.17 Whether the 600 MWe and 1,000 MWe reactors are built remains uncertain, and it would be another giant leap from a single commercial-scale fast reactor to a fleet of them.

Building a commercial-scale reprocessing plant in support of an experimental fast reactor program makes no sense. A January 2016 paper from the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs states: "The planned 200 tHM/yr reprocessing plant and the proposed 800 tHM/yr plant may not be the best facilities for supporting China's near-term and long-term fuel cycle plans. Fast reactors could be started up with enriched uranium or with plutonium imported from other countries which have large excess stocks available, at far lower cost than building these proposed reprocessing plants."18

The International Panel on Fissile Material (IPFM) analyzed China's reprocessing program in a July 2015 report and concluded: "China should learn from the experiences of other countries that have prematurely launched large reprocessing programs in the expectation that the commercialization of breeder reactors would follow. The commercialization of breeders did not follow and the result has been hugely costly programs to clean up the reprocessing sites and to dispose of the separated plutonium."14

Military connections

China's military reprocessing program helped lay the foundation for a civilian reprocessing program, with the small civilian reprocessing plant located next to the large Jiuquan military reprocessing plant and sharing some of its facilities.

The IPFM report argues that the military origins and connections might partially explain the current drive to expand civil reprocessing: "The persistence of civilian reprocessing in nuclear-weapon states reflects in part the strong institutional connections their reprocessing establishments formed within their governments when they were providing plutonium for weapons and the desire of those establishments to continue to have a mission after national requirements for weapons plutonium were fulfilled."14

Is there any Chinese interest in using ostensibly civil reprocessing plants to separate plutonium for weapons? Possibly, although the use of indigenously-designed, dedicated military facilities might seem a more logical pathway to fissile material for weapons. A reprocessing plant based on Areva technology (and the nuclear materials processed by the plant) would likely be subject to IAEA safeguards. Whether IAEA safeguards would apply was a sticking point between Beijing and Paris according to the IPFM.14

Henry Sokolski, executive director of the Nonproliferation Policy Education Center, is concerned about the potential for a large reprocessing plant to produce material for weapons, regardless of safeguards:19

"If China builds and operates this plant, it plans to stockpile plutonium for 10 to 20 years ‒ ostensibly for advanced reactor fuel ‒ producing enough plutonium for between 15,000 and 30,000 bombs, roughly the number of weapons' worth of nuclear explosives that the United States or Russia could remilitarize if they weaponized the massive amounts of surplus nuclear weapons fuel in their respective stockpiles.

"This could be militarily significant. Currently, China's nuclear arsenal is believed to be only 200 to 400 weapons. Its surplus plutonium stockpile, moreover, is only large enough to produce some additional hundreds of bombs, and China lacks any working military plutonium production reactor. Would a Chinese commercial plutonium program serve as a work-around? This may not be China's intention now, but if tensions in the region increased, might this change? One has to hope not."

Similar points could be made about the large reprocessing plant under construction in Japan, and South Korea's efforts to establish reprocessing. Sokolski writes: "What makes these civilian plutonium-recycling efforts all the more dubious is how little economic and technical sense they make. They are not only unnecessary to promote nuclear power or manage nuclear waste, but also clear money losers. Privately, Chinese, Japanese, and South Korean officials and other government advisers concede these points; publicly, they don't."19

Publicly, Beijing seems committed to reprocessing, but political leaders might yet see sense. Arguments used to promote reprocessing "are beginning to be challenged within China's nuclear establishment" according to the IPFM.14 While Beijing and Paris announced last year that they have reached agreement on technical aspects of the proposed reprocessing project, they may be deadlocked over costs.

Beijing first signed an agreement with Areva for cooperation on reprocessing and MOX fuel technologies in November 2007. They hoped that a reprocessing plant would be completed in 2020 ‒ but as things stand, construction won't begin until 2020, if indeed it ever begins.


1. Chris Buckley, 8 Aug 2016, 'Thousands in Eastern Chinese City Protest Nuclear Waste Project',


3. Chris Buckley, 10 Aug 2016, 'Chinese City Backs Down on Proposed Nuclear Fuel Plant After Protests',

4. Yin Yijun and Fan Yiying, 9 Aug 2016, 'Anti-nuclear Waste Protest Turns Violent in Lianyungang',

5. South China Morning Post, 9 Aug, 2016, 'Residents of Chinese city protest for third day over possible plans to build nuclear fuel reprocessing centre',

6. Zhao Yusha, 8 Aug 2016, 'Jiangsu residents protest nuclear project',

7. David Stanway, 10 Aug 2016, 'China halts work on $15 billion nuclear waste project after protests',

8. 11 Aug 2016, 'Nuclear plant scheme halted in eastern China after thousands take part in street protests',

9. Lucy Hornby, 7 Aug 2016, 'China protests force rethink on nuclear waste site City that hosts reactor complex will not be home to first large-scale nuclear reprocessing plant',

10. 23 Aug 2016, 'China cancels nuclear fuel centre following protests', Nuclear Monitor #766,

11. He Xin and Tian Lin, 31 July 2016, 'When a Wave of Protest Swamped a Nuclear Fuel Project',

12. Chris Buckley, 21 Nov 2015, 'China's Nuclear Vision Collides With Villagers' Fears',

13. Hui Zhang, 8 Oct 2014, 'The Security Risks of China's Nuclear Reprocessing Facilities',

14. International Panel on Fissile Material, July 2015, 'Plutonium Separation in Nuclear Power Programs: Status, Problems, and Prospects of Civilian Reprocessing Around the World'

15. Rhiannon Hoyle and Mayumi Negishi, 31 July 2016, 'Japan Nuclear-Power Jitters Weigh on Global Uranium Market',

16. 9 Aug 2016, 'Uranium: the world's worst mined commodity', Nuclear Monitor #828,


18. Matthew Bunn, Hui Zhang, and Li Kang, Jan 2016. 'The Cost of Reprocessing in China', Report for Project on Managing the Atom, Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, Harvard Kennedy School,

19. Henry Sokolski, 28 March 2016, 'Can East Asia avoid a nuclear explosive materials arms race?',

China's nuclear exports may struggle to find a market

Nuclear Monitor Issue: 
Steve Thomas ‒ professor of energy studies, University of Greenwich, London.

China's nuclear power industry has eyed up a big push to export its technologies as countries around the world consider low-carbon alternatives to coal.1 But despite an increasingly clearer field for Chinese nuclear exports – mainly because of the woes dragging down French and Russian competitors – selling reactors abroad is likely to prove to a much tougher task than had first been thought. Perhaps the biggest uncertainty is whether there will be much of a nuclear export market at all.

Since 2008, reactors built in China have accounted for the majority of the world's new reactor construction. In 2015, seven new construction projects were launched, six of which were for China. While there are a large number of countries talking about buying reactors, many of which would be their first nuclear projects, the history of these types of exports suggests only a small number of these will be translated into real orders.

Moreover, many countries have major concerns about relying on China for the supply of such a strategically important piece of infrastructure. In particular, their concerns centre on the quality of components, the rigour of the Chinese regulatory system, the risk of dependence on China and the potential leakage of technologies that have hugely strategic geopolitical use.

There is little hard evidence on the precise impact of these issues on decision-making but it is clear that they warrant serious questions from any country wanting to buy reactors from China.

For example, Philippe Jamet, a French nuclear safety commissioner, said in 2014: "Unfortunately, collaboration [with China] isn't at a level [where] we would wish it to be".2 He added: "One of the explanations for the difficulties in our relations is that the Chinese safety authorities lack means. They are overwhelmed."

China's great strengths in nuclear are its well-oiled component supply chain and the ability of its vendors to call on Chinese government finance. For example, the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China has agreed to offer loans of 74 billion yuan (€10.1b; US$11.2b) to support CGN's nuclear project in Romania.

There is also a presumption that Chinese reactors will be cheap, although until China competes in open markets, we don't know this for sure.

An advantage to China is that its competitors in the nuclear export market are in various states of disarray. Of the two historic market leaders, France's Areva is mired in debt, while Westinghouse isn't in much better shape. US-headquartered Westinghouse was bought by Toshiba in 2006 and the Japanese company's reactor division has made losses from 2012 onwards. The Toshiba group as a whole is expected to lose US$4.5 billion (€4b) for 2015. In July last year, Toshiba admitted it had overstated its profits for the previous six years, resulting in a record fine from the Japanese authorities and its credit rating being reduced to junk.

Progress with construction of the eight reactors using the AP1000 design is no better than with the European Pressurised Reactor (EPR), developed by France's Areva. Four reactors in China are now at least three-to-four years late while the four in the US suffered further delays and are also several years late after only two years of construction.

Russia's woes

The real competitor appears to be Russia, which claims a formidable book of about 20 firm orders in Bangladesh, Egypt, Finland, Hungary, India, Iran, Jordan, Turkey and Vietnam ‒ far more than the rest of the nuclear vendors put together. It also claims to be in advanced negotiations in Saudi Arabia, South Africa and Nigeria.

Like China, there has always been a presumption that Russia would be able to supply the finance and that Russian reactors would be cheap. The combination of sanctions against Russia and the collapse of the world oil price has left Russia with depleted financial reserves. Since the Chernobyl disaster, it has supplied only about a dozen new orders and its ability to provide the five or six reactors per year, which are be needed to fulfil its order book, must be in serious doubt.

China ramps up

To examine the Chinese nuclear export industry in more detail, it's worth going back over the last decade to chart the development of the country's domestic developments

In 2008, China began to build new nuclear reactors for its home market at a rate of six to eight per year, not seen since the French nuclear programme of the 1970s. This programme was based on technology similar to that used by the French then, and was built under a technology licence with the French company Areva.

The Fukushima disaster of March 2011 brought this programme largely to a halt for the next four years, until reactor construction on a wider scale restarted in 2015 with six new construction starts.

By 2015, China was looking to export markets for reactors. The Chinese vendors claimed these new designs were their own intellectual property and so were able to offer them for export without requiring the permission of their foreign partner. The three companies do not compete in the same countries.

The first major Chinese export success was in 2013, when China National Nuclear Corporation (CNNC) announced it had sold an ACP-1000 reactor to Pakistan.

In November 2015, Argentina announced an agreement with CNNC to build two reactors.3 The first would use Canadian 'CANDU' technology, a technology that CNNC was familiar with from the two CANDU plants it operates in China.

The second would be an HPR1000. Given that Argentina's previous reactor took 33 years to build, mainly because of financial problems, it is not clear when and how quickly the CNNC projects will proceed.

China General Nuclear Corporation (CGN) has a focus centred mostly on Europe. In 2013, the French utility, EDF, announced that CGN and CNNC would be part of the consortium that would build the two EPR reactors at Hinkley Point C in the UK, taking up to a 40% stake between them.

In October 2015, when more details of the Hinkley deal were announced, CNNC had disappeared from the picture, for reasons not explained, and CGN was expecting to take a 33.5% stake.

It said it would also take a 20% stake in a follow-up station, Sizewell C. However, more significant was that EDF would release land at one of its sites, Bradwell, for CGN to build HPR1000 technology.

The plans are at an early stage and CGN has not announced how many reactors it plans to build there, or what the timescale is.

Nevertheless, if it was able to build in UK, it would be a huge fillip to its export plans because of the prestige that winning an order in such a long-established nuclear power as UK would bring.

China's other main opportunity is in Romania where it is bidding to build two CANDU reactors. But, in common with Argentina, Romania appears a high risk, low probability market without much to gain from success.

In November 2014, Turkey announced a deal to buy four reactors from China's State Power Investment Corporation (SPI), two using the Toshiba AP1000 design and two using the CAP1400, with construction start forecast for 2018/19.

It remains to be seen whether any of Turkey's four orders will go ahead. SPI is one of five vendors competing in South Africa for an order for six to eight reactors, but it does not appear to be a front-runner. As is the case for so many nuclear markets, there is a large risk that no orders will be placed.

Areva (owned by the French state and a potential target for takeover by Chinese companies) is essentially bankrupt and in the process of a government rescue. A potential takeover would give Chinese companies an apparently golden opportunity to gain access to markets and to technologies, such as uranium enrichment and spent fuel reprocessing, that it has long wished for.4

Reprinted from China Dialogue,






Reprocessing and plutonium stockpiling in East Asia

Nuclear Monitor Issue: 
Jim Green ‒ Nuclear Monitor editor

"Reprocessing provides the strongest link between commercial nuclear power and proliferation."

– US Congress, Office of Technology Assessment, 'Nuclear proliferation and safeguards', June 1977.

U.S. Republican candidate Donald Trump recently said that he would support a decision by Japan to build nuclear weapons. "You may very well be better off if that's the case," Trump said. "In other words, where Japan is defending itself against North Korea, which is a real problem. You very well may have a better case right there."1

Trump's comments were criticized both in Japan and in the U.S. But the position of successive U.S. governments has also been highly problematic ‒ publicly criticizing Japan's stockpiling of ever-greater amounts of separated plutonium and voicing concern about Japan's plan to start up the Rokkasho reprocessing plant ... but doing absolutely nothing about those problems.

Japan continues to expand its stockpile of 48 tonnes of separated plutonium (10.8 tonnes in Japan, 20.7 tonnes in the UK and 16.3 tonnes in France) and it continues to advance plans to start up the Rokkasho reprocessing plant in 2018. Rokkasho would result in an additional eight tonnes of separated plutonium annually.

The U.S. has a long history of publicly and privately voicing concern about Japan's plutonium stockpiling, and an equally long history of inaction. Diplomatic cables in 1993 and 1994 from US Ambassadors in Tokyo described Japan's accumulation of plutonium as "massive" and questioned the rationale for the stockpiling of so much plutonium since it appeared to be economically unjustified.2

A March 1993 diplomatic cable from US Ambassador Armacost in Tokyo to Secretary of State Warren Christopher, obtained under the US Freedom of Information Act, posed these questions: "Can Japan expect that if it embarks on a massive plutonium recycling program that Korea and other nations would not press ahead with reprocessing programs? Would not the perception of Japan's being awash in plutonium and possessing leading edge rocket technology create anxiety in the region?"2

At the 2012 Nuclear Security Summit, U.S. President Obama said: "We simply can't go on accumulating huge amounts of the very material, like separated plutonium, that we're trying to keep away from terrorists."3

In 2014, a U.S. National Nuclear Security Administration report noted that "global civilian plutonium inventories have risen sharply over the last 20 years" and that "further international engagement is needed to stop plutonium accumulation and start drawing down inventories."4

The Communiqué of the 2014 Nuclear Security Summit, endorsed by 53 nations, stated: "We encourage States to minimise their stocks of HEU [highly enriched uranium] and to keep their stockpile of separated plutonium to the minimum level, both as consistent with national requirements."5

In 2014, with no hint of irony, a joint US/Japan statement announcing the plan to send some HEU and separated plutonium from the Fast Critical Assembly at Tokai to the U.S. concluded: "Our two countries encourage others to consider what they can do to further HEU and plutonium minimization."6 The amount of plutonium held at Tokai was 331 kg, yet Japan plans to separate 8,000 kg of plutonium every year at Rokkasho.

Ahead of the recently-concluded 2016 Nuclear Security Summit, the U.S. government was once again making strong statements about reprocessing and plutonium stockpiling. In mid-March, U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Thomas Countryman, who heads the State Department's Bureau of International Security and Nonproliferation, told a Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing that reprocessing "has little if any economic justification" and raises proliferation concerns.7

Countryman said "there are genuine economic questions where it is important that the US and its partners in Asia have a common understanding of the economic and nonproliferation issues at stake before making a decision about renewal of the 123 [civilian nuclear cooperation] agreement, for example, with Japan."8

Countryman focused his criticisms on moves by China, Japan and South Korea to develop reprocessing programs while also expressing blanket opposition to civil reprocessing programs: "I would be very happy to see all countries get out of the plutonium reprocessing business."9

Countryman said the U.S. has raised with France its concerns about the dynamics in Asia. France's Areva is heavily involved in the reprocessing plans in both China and Japan.7

Japan's bilateral nuclear cooperation agreement with the U.S. expires in 2018. The current agreement, which will remain in force beyond 2018 unless amended, does nothing to curb or prevent Japan's plutonium stockpiling or its reprocessing plans.10

Washington could apply constraints to Japan's plutonium stockpiling and reprocessing insofar as it involves U.S.-obligated nuclear materials. But that seems highly unlikely. An indication of the realpolitik came in late March when Thomas Countryman, presumably pressured by higher-ups, reversed his earlier statements. Countryman 2.0 claimed that Japan's reprocessing plans and plutonium stockpiling do not raise proliferation concerns and that no other country was closer or more important as a partner to the U.S. than Japan.11

Nuclear commentator Dan Yurman suggests the whole thing was a set-up: "On one hand, the first round of comments by Countryman appear to address China's concerns about Japan's [plutonium] stockpile. China's delegation to the Nuclear Security Summit was led by Xi Jinping, President of the People's Republic of China. On the other, the state department official's reversal appears to also appease the Japanese delegation which undoubtedly did not take kindly to having such a direct set of remarks expressed ahead of their visit to Washington."12

South Korea

Washington and Seoul came to an agreement last year which continues the prohibition on domestic reprocessing in South Korea while permitting research into pyroprocessing ‒ separating fission products from spent fuel, leaving plutonium mixed with other actinides.13

Pyroprocessing is promoted as a proliferation-resistant alternative to conventional reprocessing. But it can also be a stepping-stone to weapons-usable material. South Korea's Chosun Media quotes a nuclear engineering professor saying that "if spent fuel is first reprocessed using pyroprocessing and then dissolved using nitric acid ‒ which is the typical method ‒ then it is possible to obtain more fissile material in a shorter amount of time."14

In a country with reprocessing, a switch to pyroprocessing would be a stepping-stone to non-proliferation. In a country without reprocessing ‒ such as South Korea ‒ pyroprocessing is a stepping-stone to proliferation.

Washington has been more proactive in its negotiations with South Korea than it has been with Japan. But Washington's refusal to do anything about Japan's reprocessing plans and plutonium stockpiling creates a double-standard which is near-impossible to maintain. Christopher Hill, a former American ambassador to Seoul, said in 2013: "If the Koreans are left with the impression that Japan can do things that South Korea can't, then it's not a sustainable concept."15

Proliferation expert Henry Sokolski notes that those South Koreans who want a nuclear weapons option as a countermeasure against North Korea "complain that Washington has authorized Japan, America's other East Asian security ally, to reprocess spent US-origin fuel (fuel made in the United States but burned in reactors in Japan) to produce plutonium. This grates on Seoul, given the historical enmity between Japan and South Korea. Washington has yet to grant South Korea similar recycling rights."16

Shortly after North Korea's nuclear weapon test on January 6, leaders of the South Korean National Assembly's ruling party publicly urged President Park Geun-hye to consider reprocessing fuel from nuclear power plants to extract plutonium, as a hedge against North Korea's nuclear weapons program.16

Elsewhere, the U.S. established a 'gold standard' with a bilateral agreement with the United Arab Emirates which prohibits enrichment and reprocessing in the UAE. But the U.S. then abandoned the 'gold standard' and is now willing to conclude nuclear trade agreements with (at most) voluntary, unenforceable commitments to forego enrichment and reprocessing.17

Of course, the U.S. is not the only country at fault. France could put international security and non-proliferation objectives ahead of commercial nuclear imperatives ... but that would be a first. Australia has its own unique way of pretending to be concerned about the security and proliferation risks associated with reprocessing and plutonium stockpiling, while ensuring that commercial imperatives and Big Power politics come first. Australia insists on prior consent before Australian-obligated nuclear material is reprocessed. So far, so good ‒ but Australia has never once invoked its right of veto to prohibit reprocessing, even when it leads to plutonium stockpiling.

China's reprocessing plans

At an October 2015 session of the First Committee session of the U.N. General Assembly, China criticized Japan's reprocessing plans, noting that Japan has enough plutonium to produce a large number of nuclear weapons, and that some Japanese advocate weapons production.10

But China doesn't bring a great deal of moral authority to the debate. An editorial in the Japanese Yomiuri Shimbun newspaper said: "China criticizes Japan for possessing enough plutonium 'to produce a large number of nuclear weapons.' Is China, which keeps the actual situation concerning its nuclear weapons secret and is reportedly enhancing its nuclear capability, in a position to criticize Japan?"9

Moreover China is planning to massively increase domestic reprocessing. China National Nuclear Corp. (CNNC) and Areva envisage a commercial-scale plant processing 800 tonnes of spent fuel annually, with capital costs of CNY 100 billion (US$15.4 billion, €13.8 billion).18

In mid-March, U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee chair Bob Corker accused the Obama administration of encouraging reprocessing despite the concern over proliferation, pointing to the renegotiation of a nuclear cooperation agreement with China last year that allows the reprocessing of fuel from U.S.-designed reactors. "We're not calling for a plutonium time-out like we could have done," Corker said.7 Democratic Senator Ed Markey warned of a domino effect in East Asia, saying if Japan and China went ahead with their reprocessing plants, there would be pressure on South Korea to pursue its own reprocessing efforts, which wold in turn undermine efforts to get North Korea to give up its nuclear weapons.7

In Beijing, U.S. Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz voiced concern about China's plans for its first commercial-scale reprocessing plant. He told the Wall Street Journal that China's recent announcement that it would press ahead with a reprocessing program "certainly isn't a positive in terms of non-proliferation" and that "we don't support large-scale reprocessing". Moniz continued: "I don't think in any way we've been coy about our arguments with all of our partners. We just see so many problems. It's just, on objective grounds, very difficult to understand."19

Areva didn't respond to a request from the Wall Street Journal for comment on Moniz's remarks and CNNC said its press officers weren't available.19

Mark Hibbs from Carnegie's Nuclear Policy Program said China's decision to pursue reprocessing couldn't be justified on economic grounds but China may be acting strategically, guaranteeing future fuel supply by recycling.19 In addition to reprocessing, Beijing plans to expand its limited MOX production capability (most likely with the involvement of Areva) to produce MOX fuel for light water reactors and possibly also fast reactors.18

Moreover there are reports that Beijing may attempt to emulate Russia's build-own-operate nuclear export model and that such an endeavor might be more practical or palatable if spent fuel from overseas reactors is taken back for reprocessing rather than direct disposal.20

Sokolski suggests a more sinister motivation:16

"If China builds and operates this plant, it plans to stockpile plutonium for 10 to 20 years ‒ ostensibly for advanced reactor fuel ‒ producing enough plutonium for between 15,000 and 30,000 bombs, roughly the number of weapons' worth of nuclear explosives that the United States or Russia could remilitarize if they weaponized the massive amounts of surplus nuclear weapons fuel in their respective stockpiles.

"This could be militarily significant. Currently, China's nuclear arsenal is believed to be only 200 to 400 weapons. Its surplus plutonium stockpile, moreover, is only large enough to produce some additional hundreds of bombs, and China lacks any working military plutonium production reactor. Would a Chinese commercial plutonium program serve as a work-around? This may not be China's intention now, but if tensions in the region increased, might this change? One has to hope not.

"What makes these civilian plutonium-recycling efforts all the more dubious is how little economic and technical sense they make. They are not only unnecessary to promote nuclear power or manage nuclear waste, but also clear money losers. Privately, Chinese, Japanese, and South Korean officials and other government advisers concede these points; publicly, they don't."


1. 26 March 2016, 'Transcript: Donald Trump Expounds on His Foreign Policy Views',


3. 26 March 2012, 'Remarks by President Obama at Hankuk University',

4. National Nuclear Security Administration, Global Threat Reduction Initiative, 3 Dec 2014, "Removal Program Overview",



7. Matthew Pennington / Associated Press, 17 March 2016, 'US official comes out strongly against major powers in East Asia pursuing nuclear reprocessing',

8. 17 March 2016, 'Reviewing the Administration's Nuclear Agenda ‒ Podcast',

9. 23 March 2016, 'Government needs to thoroughly explain nuclear fuel cycle project to U.S.',

10. 11 Feb 2016, 'US, others worried over Japan's plutonium stockpile',

11. Seima Oki, 29 March 2016, 'U.S. official changes stance on Japan's nuclear policy',

12. Dan Yurman, 2 April 2016, 'Nuclear Fuel News for 4/2/16',

13. 22 April 2015, 'S. Korea, US strike new civil nuclear deal',

14. Lee Young-Wan, 19 Feb 2016,

English translation posted at:

15. Jay Solomon and Miho Inada, 1 May 2013, 'Japan's Nuclear Plan Unsettles U.S.',

16. Henry Sokolski, 28 March 2016, 'Can East Asia avoid a nuclear explosive materials arms race?',

17. 23 Aug 2013, 'Sensitive nuclear technologies and US nuclear export agreements', Nuclear Monitor #766,

18. WNA, Feb 2016, 'China's Nuclear Fuel Cycle',

19. Brian Spegele, 17 March 2016, 'China's Plans to Recycle Nuclear Fuel Raise Concerns',

20. 27 Sept 2015, 'China to start reprocessing plant by 2030',

China: Moving nuclear reactors inland is a bad idea

Nuclear Monitor Issue: 
M. V. Ramana and Amy King

Following the Fukushima nuclear disaster, and wider concerns1 over the safety of Chinese nuclear facilities, China's central government suspended its consideration of proposals for construction of nuclear power plants at inland sites. But in the last couple of years, pressure has been renewed to build nuclear plants at sites away from the coast.

Beijing is now mulling over the decision to build new nuclear plants inland2 as an alternative to coal power, which has been the cause of disastrous air pollution in parts of the country.

As we have argued elsewhere3, there is a growing tension between the government's plan for rapid expansion of nuclear power and its commitment to safety. The final decision over inland nuclear construction will decide how this tension is resolved.

For now, Chinese policymakers face a risky decision. All of China's nuclear power plants are currently located in coastal provinces. But in the second half of the last decade, plans were drawn up to start construction of nuclear power plants in inland areas.

The renewed pressure on the central government to reintroduce this plan is coming from local, provincial and county-level governments. The latter argue that they would benefit from greater tax revenues and economic growth generated by future nuclear plants, built and managed by State Owned Enterprises, such as China National Nuclear Corporation and China General Nuclear Power Corporation.

In Hunan province, for example, the general manager of the Hunan Taohuajiang Nuclear Power Company, Zheng Yanguo, told reporters in September 2014 that an investment of 70 billion yuan (US$11 billion) in the Taohuajiang nuclear power plant would return GDP growth of over 100 billion yuan to Hunan, and generate annual tax income of around 15 billion yuan.4

At the March 2015 National Party Congress, delegations from Hunan and Hubei provinces called upon the central government to restart construction of inland power projects at the beginning of the 13th Five Year Plan (2016-2020).5

Further adding to these pressures to restart inland nuclear construction are the central government's own ambitious nuclear expansion targets6, which are increasingly seen as requiring the opening up of inland sites.

So why is the location of inland plants so controversial? It stems from the fact that inland nuclear power plants pose far higher risks to nearby water sources and to the people dependent on these resources than comparable coastal plants.

Water worries

Water is critical to the functioning of nuclear power plants. Nuclear reactors circulate large quantities of water through their radioactive cores in order to remove the tremendous amounts of heat produced.

For each hour of operation, a typical 1,000 megawatt nuclear reactor has to pull in (or withdraw) about 170,000 cubic metres of water from some external source. Of this, about a thousand cubic metres evaporate and the rest of the water is returned to the external source at a higher temperature.7

This is why nuclear reactors are always located near a large body of water – the ocean or a large lake or river. By contrast, 'combined cycle ' natural gas plants withdraw only about a quarter of what a nuclear plant does and the net amount of water that would evaporate from a natural gas plant is about 40% of the evaporation level of a nuclear plant.

Wind and solar photovoltaic plants use only very small amounts of water, such as for cleaning or panel washing, and thus have negligible impacts on water resources.

Water is also critical in the event of a nuclear accident, as was demonstrated during the March 2011 Fukushima disaster. While at Fukushima, there was no shortage of water outside the reactor, it was not possible to circulate this water through the reactor—and therefore remove the heat being generated there—because there was no electricity available to run water circulation pumps. The result was a nuclear meltdown and eventually the dumping of enormous amounts of radioactive materials into the Pacific Ocean.

In the event of an accident, nuclear plants located far from the ocean would have to discharge their effluent into a river or a lake. In China, where 70% of rivers and lakes are already contaminated according to the World Watch Institute, this could be disastrous.

Climate change is only making the situation worse. Globally, the number of days per year when inland water body temperatures are too high to effectively cool a nuclear reactor are increasing.8

Finally, even without an accident, the sheer amounts of water needed by nuclear plants make it unsuitable for inland locations in China. Water availability is already a big concern—the per capita availability of renewable freshwater is only a third of the global average.9 Consulting company McKinsey estimates that demand for water in China will increase by 61% between 2005 and 2030 and outstrip supply by 25% at the end of that period.10

Holes in the argument

In China, pro-inland expansion groups argue that there is a paucity of coastal sites; that profits inland are favourable; that new reactor designs "can avoid Fukushima-like catastrophes".11 They add that nuclear power plants have a role in clearing smog and improving air quality12 because, unlike coal-fired power stations, nuclear plants do not emit smoke or various chemicals.

However, each of these arguments is only partially valid. For instance, the provinces where inland nuclear plants are proposed are not necessarily those most threatened by air pollution. Furthermore, all nuclear reactors can undergo catastrophic accidents, even the so-called third generation ones.13 These reactors have all of the same fundamental ingredients that made possible the earlier accidents at Chernobyl and Fukushima: a complex technology with large quantities of radioactive materials at high temperatures and pressures, and where even small errors can quickly spin out of control.

Although the nuclear industry uses a technique called probabilistic risk assessment to argue that the likelihood is very small, there are serious problems with this methodology and its results are simply not reliable.14

Local opposition

Plans for inland construction have met resistance from citizens. In the aftermath of Fukushima, opposition to the proposed Pengze plant erupted in the adjoining Anhui province. The government of Wangjiang county, which is directly downstream from the proposed site, publicly accused the Pengze project of "falsifying its EIA [Environmental Impact Assessment] report,"15 and objected to Jiangxi province's failure to consult its provincial neighbours before deciding where to site the plant.

If the Pengze project goes ahead, Anhui faces the risk of nuclear contamination16 in the event of an accident, but would not enjoy the majority of any economic or energy benefits from the plant.

While the level of opposition in Anhui is unprecedented, it comes in the wake of a significant increase in the Chinese public's perception of risk from nuclear facilities, following the Fukushima disaster.17 This concern is also shared by some elite, retired nuclear experts.18 More generally, it has been reported that many Chinese people are nervous about the prospect of large nuclear expansion.19

Five days after the Fukushima nuclear disaster started, China's State Council stated: "Safety is our top priority in developing nuclear power plants". As we approach the fifth anniversary of Fukushima, it is worth remembering that just talking about nuclear safety is not enough. If safety is indeed the top priority, it should be demonstrated through firm decisions. Some of these decisions could result in slowing down or limiting nuclear construction.

A ban on inland nuclear construction would be a good start. It would make clear that China's central government is willing to put the lives and livelihoods of its citizens above the economic interests of local governments and State Owned Enterprises.

M. V. Ramana is with the Program on Science and Global Security at Princeton University. Amy King is a lecturer in the Strategic and Defence Studies Centre at the Australian National University.

Reprinted from China Dialogue,





















Nuclear power: 2014 review

Nuclear Monitor Issue: 
Jim Green − Nuclear Monitor editor

Global nuclear power capacity increased slightly in 2014 according to the World Nuclear Association1:

  • Five new reactors (4.76 gigawatts (GW)) began supplying electricity (three in China, one each in Argentina and Russia), and three were permanently shut down (Vermont Yankee, USA; Fukushima Daiichi #5 and #6).
  • There are now 437 'operable' reactors (377.7 GW) compared with 435 reactors (375.3 GW) a year ago. Thus the number of reactors increased by two (0.5%) and nuclear generating capacity increased by 2.4 GW (0.6%). (For comparison, around 100 GW of solar and wind power capacity were built in 2014, up from 74 GW in 2013.2)
  • Construction started on just three reactors during 2014, one each in Belarus, the United Arab Emirates, and Argentina. A total of 70 reactors (74 GW) are under construction.

Thus a long-standing pattern of stagnation continues. Global nuclear power capacity grew by 10.6% in the two decades from 1995−2014, and just 2.6% in the decade from 2005−2014.3

The pattern of stagnation is likely to persist. Steve Kidd, a nuclear consultant who worked for the World Nuclear Association for 17 years, wrote in a May 2014 article: "Upper scenarios showing rapid nuclear growth in many countries including plants starting up in new countries now look very unlikely, certainly before the late 2020s. If there is to be a nuclear renaissance, it is now much more likely to happen later, and with a new generation of reactors. On the other hand, predictions that another major accident would shut down nuclear in lots of countries have been negated by the experience of Fukushima. Although there remain some uncertainties, the outlying upper and lower cases are much less credible than before."4

Despite 20 years of stagnation, the World Nuclear Association remains upbeat. Its latest report, The World Nuclear Supply Chain: Outlook 2030, envisages the start-up of 266 new reactors by 2030.5 The figure is implausible − it would require completion of the 70 reactors under construction, start-to-finish construction of another 196 reactors, and start-to-finish construction of dozens more reactors to replace those that are shut down ... all in the space of 15 years! If only the World Nuclear Association took bets on its ridiculous projections.

Nuclear Energy Insider is more sober and reflective in an end-of-year review published in December: "As we embark on a new year, there are distinct challenges and opportunities on the horizon for the nuclear power industry. Many industry experts believe that technology like Small Nuclear Reactors (SMR) represent a strong future for nuclear. Yet, rapidly growing renewable energy sources, a bountiful and inexpensive supply of natural gas and oil, and the aging population of existing nuclear power plants represent challenges that the industry must address moving forward."6

Steve Kidd is still more downbeat, arguing that nuclear advocates have not made much progress gaining public acceptance over the past few years.7 Kidd writes: "[W]e have seen no nuclear renaissance (instead, a notable number of reactor closures in some countries, combined with strong growth in China) ... Countries such as Germany and Switzerland that claim environmental credentials are moving strongly away from nuclear. Even with rapid nuclear growth in China, nuclear's share in world electricity is declining. The industry is doing little more than hoping that politicians and financiers eventually see sense and back huge nuclear building programmes. On current trends, this is looking more and more unlikely. The high and rising nuclear share in climate-friendly scenarios is false hope, with little in the real outlook giving them any substance. Far more likely is the situation posited in the World Nuclear Industry Status Report8 ... Although this report is produced by anti-nuclear activists, its picture of the current reactors gradually shutting down with numbers of new reactors failing to replace them has more than an element of truth given the recent trends."

Kidd's comments on renewables are also worth quoting: "The nuclear industry giving credence to climate change from fossil fuels has simply led to a stronger renewables industry. Nuclear seems to be "too difficult" and gets sidelined − as it has within the entire process since the original Kyoto accords. And now renewables, often thought of as useful complements to nuclear, begin to threaten it in power markets when there is abundant power from renewables when the wind blows and the sun shines."7

Kidd proposes reducing nuclear costs by simplifying and standardising current reactor designs. Meanwhile, as the International Energy Agency's World Economic Outlook 2014 report noted, nuclear growth will be "concentrated in markets where electricity is supplied at regulated prices, utilities have state backing or governments act to facilitate private investment." Conversely, "nuclear power faces major challenges in competitive markets where there are significant market and regulatory risks, and public acceptance remains a critical issue worldwide."9

Four countries supposedly driving a nuclear renaissance

Let's briefly consider countries where the number of power reactors might increase or decrease by 10 or more over the next 15−20 years. Generally, it is striking how much uncertainty there is about the nuclear programs in these countries.

China is one of the few exceptions. China has 22 operable reactors, 27 under construction and 64 planned. Significant, rapid growth can be expected unless China's nuclear program is derailed by a major accident or a serious act of sabotage or terrorism.10

In the other three countries supposedly driving a nuclear renaissance − Russia, South Korea and India − growth is likely to be modest and slow.

Russia has 34 operating reactors, nine under construction and 31 planned. Only three reactors have begun operation over the past decade, and the pattern of slow growth is likely to continue. As for Russia's ambitious nuclear export program, Steve Kidd noted in October 2014 that it "is reasonable to suggest that it is highly unlikely that Russia will succeed in carrying out even half of the projects in which it claims to be closely involved".11

South Korea has 23 operating reactors, five under construction and eight planned. Earlier plans for rapid nuclear expansion have been derailed by the Fukushima disaster, a major scandal over forged safety documents, and a hacking attack on Korea Hydro's computer network.12 Growth will be, at most, modest and slow.

India has 21 operating reactors, six under construction and 22 planned. But India's nuclear program is in a "deep freeze" according to a November 2014 article in the Hindustan Times.13 Likewise, India Today reported on January 8: "The Indian nuclear programme is on the brink of distress. For the past four years, no major tender has gone through − a period that was, ironically, supposed to mark the beginning of an Indian nuclear renaissance in the aftermath of the landmark India−US civil nuclear deal."14

India's energy minister Piyush Goyal said in November 2014 that the government remains "cautious" about developing nuclear power. He pointed to waning interest in the US and Europe: "This government would like to be cautious so that we are not saddled with something only under the garb of clean energy or alternate energy; something which the West has discarded and is sought to be brought to India."15

A November 2014 article in The Hindu newspaper notes that three factors have put a break on India's reactor-import plans: "the exorbitant price of French- and U.S.-origin reactors, the accident-liability issue, and grass-roots opposition to the planned multi-reactor complexes."16 In addition, unresolved disagreements regarding safeguards and non-proliferation assurances are delaying US and European investment in India's nuclear program.17

Saudi Arabia last year announced plans to build 16 reactors by 2032. Already, the timeline has been pushed back from 2032 to 2040.18 As with any country embarking on a nuclear power program for the first time, Saudi Arabia faces daunting logistical and workforce issues.19 Numerous nuclear supplier are lining up to supply Saudi Arabia's nuclear power program but political obstacles could easily emerge, not least because Saudi officials (and royalty) have repeatedly said that the Kingdom will build nuclear weapons if Iran's nuclear program is not constrained.20

South Africa's on-again off-again nuclear power program is on again with plans for 9.6 GW of nuclear capacity in addition to the two operating reactors at Koeberg.21 In 2007, state energy utility Eskom approved a plan for 20 GW of new nuclear capacity. Areva's EPR and Westinghouse's AP1000 were short-listed and bids were submitted. But in 2008 Eskom announced that it would not proceed with either of the bids due to a lack of finance. Easy come, easy go.

Thus the latest plan for 9.6 GW of new nuclear capacity in South Africa is being treated with scepticism. Academic Prof. Steve Thomas noted in a July 2014 report: "Overall, a renewed call for tenders (or perhaps bilateral negotiations with a preferred bidder) is likely to produce the same result as 2008: a very high price for an unproven technology that will only be financeable if the South African public, either in the form of electricity consumers or as taxpayers, is prepared to give open ended guarantees."22

Pro-nuclear commentator Dan Yurman is also sceptical: "Depending on who's pricing analysis you accept, the reactors alone will cost between [US]$5000 (Rosatom) and $6500/Kw (Eskom) or between $48 billion and $62.4 billion. Adding in balance of plant equipment and power line infrastructure, and the total price tag heads north to between $65 billion and $84 billion. Given that the intended power purchase firm is state-owned Eskom, which is perpetually broke due to government resistance to rate increases, the entire exercise seems implausible at this scale. ... Almost no one believes that as long as Zuma is in power that anything remotely resembling an orderly procurement process is likely to take place."23

Iran has one operable power reactor. Last year, Russia and Iran signed a contract to build two power reactors, and they signed a protocol envisaging possible construction of an additional six reactors.24

Plans for significant nuclear power expansion in one or two other countries − such as the Pakistani government's plan for 40 GW of nuclear capacity by 2050 − are implausible.25

Nuclear negawatts

Now to briefly consider those countries where a significant decline of nuclear power is possible or likely over the next 15−20 years.

Patterns of stagnation or slow decline in north America and western Europe can safely be predicted. Steve Kidd wrote in May 2014 that uranium demand (and nuclear power capacity) "will almost certainly fall in the key markets in Western Europe and North America" in the period to 2030.4 In January 2014, the European Commission forecast that EU nuclear generating capacity of 131 GW in 2010 will decline to 97 GW in 2025.26

The United States has 99 operable reactors. Five reactors are under construction, "with little prospect for more" according to Decisions to shut down just as many reactors have been taken in the past few years. As the Financial Times noted last year, two decisions that really rattled the industry were the closures of Dominion Resources' Kewaunee plant in Wisconsin and Entergy's Vermont Yankee − both were operating and licensed to keep operating into the 2030s, but became uneconomic to keep in operation.28

The US Energy Information Administration estimated in April 2014 that 10.8 GW of nuclear capacity − around 10% of total US nuclear capacity − could be shut down by the end of the decade.29

The most that the US nuclear industry can hope for is stagnation underpinned by new legislative and regulatory measures favouring nuclear power along with multi-billion dollar government handouts. The situation is broadly similar in the UK − the nuclear power industry there is scrambling just to stand still.

France's lower house of Parliament voted in October 2014 to cut nuclear's share of electricity generation from 75% to 50% by 2025, to cap nuclear capacity at 63.2 GW, and to pursue a renewables target of 40% by 2030 with various new measures to promote the growth of renewables.30,31 The Senate will vote on the legislation early this year.

However there will be many twists and turns in French energy policy. Energy Minister Segolene Royal said on January 13 that France should build a new generation of reactors, and she noted that the October 2014 energy transition bill did not include a 40-year age limit for power reactors as ecologists wanted.32

Germany's government is systematically pursuing its policy of phasing out nuclear power by 2023. That said, nothing is certain: the nuclear phase-out policy of the social democrat / greens coalition government in the early 2000s was later overturned by a conservative government.

Japan's 48 operable reactors are all shut down. A reasonable estimate is that three-quarters (36/48) of the reactors will restart in the coming years. Before the Fukushima disaster, Tokyo planned to add another 15−20 reactors to the fleet of 55 giving a total of 70−75 reactors. Thus, Japan's nuclear power industry will be around half the size it might have been if not for the Fukushima disaster.

The elephant in the room − ageing reactors

The problem of ageing reactors came into focus in 2014 − and will remain in focus for decades to come with the average age of the world's power reactors now 29 years and steadily increasing.33,34

Problems with ageing reactors include:

  • the increased risk of accidents (and associated problems such as generally inadequate accident liability arrangements);
  • an increased rate of unplanned reactors outages (at one point last year, less than half of the UK's nuclear capacity was available due to multiple outages35);
  • costly refurbishments;
  • debates over appropriate safety standards for reactors designed decades ago; and
  • the costs associated with reactor decommissioning and long-term nuclear waste management.

Greenpeace highlighted the problems associated with ageing reactors with the release of a detailed report last year36, and emphasised the point by breaking into six ageing European nuclear plants on 5 March 2014.37

The International Energy Agency (IEA) said in its World Energy Outlook 2014 report: "A wave of retirements of ageing nuclear reactors is approaching: almost 200 of the 434 reactors operating at the end of 2013 are retired in the period to 2040, with the vast majority in the European Union, the United States, Russia and Japan."9

IEA chief economist Fatih Birol said: "Worldwide, we do not have much experience and I am afraid we are not well-prepared in terms of policies and funds which are devoted to decommissioning. A major concern for all of us is how we are going to deal with this massive surge in retirements in nuclear power plants."38

The World Energy Outlook 2014 report estimates the cost of decommissioning reactors to be more than US$100 billion (€89b) up to 2040, adding that "considerable uncertainties remain about these costs, reflecting the relatively limited experience to date in dismantling and decontaminating reactors and restoring sites for other uses."

The IEA's head of power generation analysis, Marco Baroni, said that even excluding waste disposal costs, the final cost could be as much as twice as high as the $100 billion estimate, and that decommissioning costs per reactor can vary by a factor of four.34

Baroni said the issue was not the decommissioning cost per reactor but "whether enough funds have been set aside to provide for it." Evidence of inadequate decommissioning funds is mounting. To give just one example, Entergy estimates a cost of US$1.24 billion (€1.10b) to decommission Vermont Yankee, but the company's decommissioning trust fund for the plant − US$0.67 billion − is barely half that amount.39

Michael Mariotte, President of the Nuclear Information & Resource Service, noted in a recent article: "Entergy, for example, has only about half the needed money in its decommissioning fund (and even so still found it cheaper to close the reactor than keep it running); repeat that across the country with multiple and larger reactors and the shortfalls could be stunning. Expect heated battles in the coming years as nuclear utilities try to push the costs of the decommissioning fund shortfalls onto ratepayers."40

The nuclear industry has a simple solution to the problem of old reactors: new reactors. But the battles over ageing and decommissioned reactors − and the raiding of taxpayers' pockets to cover shortfalls − will make it that much more difficult to convince politicians and the public to support new reactors.


1. WNA Weekly Digest, 16 Jan 2015, 'Slight increase in nuclear capacity in 2014',
2. Tierney Smith, 9 Jan 2015, '5 Countries Leading the Way Toward 100% Renewable Energy',
4. Steve Kidd, 6 May 2014, 'The future of uranium – higher prices to come?',
5. WNA, 2014, 'The World Nuclear Supply Chain: Outlook 2030,
6. John Johnson, 5 Dec 2014, 'Nuclear power to change shape in 2015',
7. Steve Kidd, 21 Jan 2015, 'Is climate change the worst argument for nuclear?',
9. International Energy Agency, 2014, 'World Economic Outlook 2014',
10. China's nuclear power plans: safety and security challenges, 19 Dec 2014, Nuclear Monitor #796,
11. Steve Kidd, 6 Oct 2014, "The world nuclear industry – is it in terminal decline?",
12. Heesu Lee, 15 Jan 2015, 'Fukushima Meltdowns Pervade S. Korea Debate on Reactor Life',
13. Shishir Gupta and Jayanth Jacob, 30 Nov 2014, 'Govt plans N-revival, focuses on investor concerns',
14. Pranab Dhal Samanta, 8 Jan 2015, 'Splitting the liability atom',
15. 6 Nov 2014, 'Govt cautious about tapping nuclear energy for power generation',
16. Brahma Chellaney, 19 Nov 2014, 'False promise of nuclear power',
17. Indrani Bagchi, 19 Nov 2014, 'American officials put up hurdles, try to scuttle India-US nuclear deal',
18. Reuters, 19 Jan 2015,
19. Dan Yurman, 24 Jan 2015, 'Saudi Arabia delays its nuclear plans',
20. 18 Sept 2014, 'Saudi Arabia's nuclear power program and its weapons ambitions', Nuclear Monitor #791,
21. 'South Africa's stop-start nuclear power program', Nuclear Monitor #792, 2 Oct 2014,
22. Steve Thomas, July 2014, 'Nuclear technology options for South Africa',
23. Dan Yurman, 6 Dec 2014, 'China jumps into the action in South Africa',
24. 5 Dec 2014, 'Russia to build more reactors in Iran', Nuclear Monitor #795,
25. 20 Jan 2015, 'N-safeguards steps implemented: IAEA',
26. WNN, 9 Jan 2014, 'Policies hold European nuclear steady',
27. Nick Cunningham, 9 Feb 2014, 'Wind and Gas Forcing Out Nuclear in Midwest',
28. Ed Crooks, 19 Feb 2014, 'Uneconomic US nuclear plants at risk of being shut down',
29. Reuters, 29 Apr 2014, 'U.S. expects about 10 pct of nuclear capacity to shut by 2020',
30. 10 Oct 2014, 'France to cut nuclear's share of power market to 50% by 2025',
31. Michel Rose, 15 Oct 2014, 'French energy transition law to cut red tape on renewables',
32. Reuters, 13 Jan 2015, 'French energy minister wants new nuclear reactors',
33. Michael Mariotte, 3 April 2014, 'Nuclear reactors are getting old – and it's showing',
34. Nina Chestney and Geert De Clercq, 19 Jan 2015, 'Global nuclear decommissioning cost seen underestimated, may spiral',
35. Nuclear Free Local Authorities, 9 Dec 2014, 'NFLA concerns over the reliability of aging nuclear reactors in the UK',
36. Greenpeace International, 2014, 'Lifetime extension of ageing nuclear power plants: Entering a new era of risk',
38. WNN, 12 Nov 2014, 'Nuclear industry shares IEA concern',
39. Robert Audette, 19 Dec 2014, 'Vermont Yankee decommissioning plan submitted to NRC',
40. Michael Mariotte, 5 Jan 2015, 'Nuclear industry goes hysterically ballistic over Yankee shutdown',

Fukushima and beyond: nuclear power in a low-carbon world

Nuclear Monitor Issue: 
Peter Karamoskos − Nuclear Radiologist, member of the National Council of the Medical Association for Prevention of War (Australia)

Review of: Christopher Hubbard, 2014, 'Fukushima and beyond: nuclear power in a low-carbon world', Ashgate Publishing, ISBN 978-1-4094-5491-5

When Tony Benn was Britain's Energy Secretary, he warned about people who came to you with a problem in one hand, and a solution in their back pocket. He learnt this from Britain's nuclear industry. One should keep this in mind when considering climate change as the latest rationale for expansion of the nuclear industry.

This book, authored by a lecturer in International Relations and International Security at Edith Cowan University in Perth, Australia, is rooted in the premise that nuclear power is essential to climate change mitigation.

The Fukushima nuclear disaster is used as a contextual leverage point to argue the counterfactual that this event, and more particularly the response to it, has made nuclear power more desirable than he contends it previously was. As the author states, rather blithely, on the issue of safety, "... simply put, the nuclear energy sector is extremely safe because it must be."

The foundational premise of the book, that nuclear power is essential to climate change mitigation is axiomatic to all arguments which follow. If it is not, then nuclear power becomes nothing more than a 'climate choice'.

The problem with this premise, which the author does not challenge, is that if we only address greenhouse gas emissions from electricity generation, then we can't avert climate change. Indeed, an important point not stated until the last chapter is that electricity does not account for the majority of greenhouse gas emissions, yet, this is the only sector that nuclear power can influence.

The latest IPCC Report1 states that the latest global greenhouse gas emissions were 49 gigatonnes (Gt) CO2-eq/yr as of 2010. Electricity and heating accounted for 12 Gt, with electricity alone about 9 Gt. Agriculture, forestry and other land use account for 12 Gt, transport 7 Gt, industry 10 Gt. Other energy sources account for the balance. So, approximately 80% of greenhouse gases (GHG) have nothing to do with electricity.

We need to reduce our GHG emissions by 40–70% of 2010 emissions by 2050 and near-zero emissions by the end of this century if we are to maintain a global temperature rise of <2 °C and thus avoid distressing climate change impacts in ecological and socio-economic systems.

If we assume the (incorrect) argument that nuclear power produces no CO2 emissions and that every kW produced avoids 500 g of CO2-e/kWh being released into the atmosphere (the average carbon intensity of global electricity generation), nuclear power currently abates 1.5 Gt per annum of GHG.

The IAEA in a report advocating nuclear power as a solution to climate change, forecasts two scenarios for the future of nuclear power: a 'low' scenario (435 GW), and a 'high' scenario (722 GW) generation capacity by 2030. However, the claim that the nuclear industry will more than double its capacity over the next few decades (in the 'high scenario') is pure fantasy.

We currently commission about one new reactor a year somewhere in the world. If under the most optimistic conditions we raise that to 8 a year for the next 10 years and 15 a year for the 10 years after that, we simply have replaced the reactors that will be de-commissioned by then. And for every year we do not meet this rate of build, the hill to be climbed gets steeper.

However, assuming that the nuclear industry pulled the proverbial rabbit out of a hat and was able to double its capacity over this time period, and (falsely) assuming that it generates no greenhouse gases itself, it would only abate an additional 2 billion tonnes of greenhouse gases per annum over the existing 1.5 Gt it already abates, i.e. 4% abatement on 2010 emissions. Therefore, how can a 3.6 Gt abatement (assuming it replaces mainly fossil fuels for electricity generation and it does not generate GHG in its life cycle – clearly not the case) be considered indispensable?

Surely it can be readily and quickly replaced with renewables, which can also address several of the other non-electricity GHG-emitting sectors. In 2013 alone, the world brought online 69 GW of solar PV and wind capacity.

If simple arithmetic escapes Hubbard's sanguine assertions as to the desirability and indispensability of nuclear power, also missing from his treatise is consideration of the blatant evidence of nuclear power being in long-term decline – long before Fukushima. The nuclear share of the world's electricity generation has declined steadily from a historic peak of 17.6% in 1996 to 10.8% in 2013.

Nuclear power and renewables in China

Even in China, which has the most ambitious nuclear power programme in the world and is the poster child for nuclear boosters, including Prof. Hubbard, more renewable electricity capacity was brought online than nuclear and fossil fuels combined in 2013. This is also reflected in a new assessment by the OECD's International Energy Agency. During 2000–2013, global investment in power plants was split between renewables (57%), fossil fuels (40%) and nuclear power (3%).

China set the world record for solar PV implementation in one year at 12 GW (compared with 3 GW for nuclear) and as of the end of 2013 has more solar PV capacity than nuclear, and five times more wind power than nuclear – and the gap between renewables and nuclear in China keeps increasing. China sees electricity generation capacity as a portfolio enterprise and is clearly putting vastly more bets on renewables than nuclear – as is the rest of the world. China's plan is for 58 GW of nuclear capacity by 2020, but wind alone already exceeded this capacity last year.

Hubbard uses optimistic projections of 300–500 GW nuclear capacity in China by 2050, but doesn't divulge that these have been promoted by the industry itself and have not been approved by the government and are certainly not government policy.

Furthermore, rapid technological advances are also making low-carbon alternatives to nuclear power appear more attractive. Bloomberg New Energy Finance, an industry publisher, forecasts that onshore wind will be the cheapest way to make electricity in China by 2030.

Nuclear output accounts for only 4.4% of global energy consumption, the smallest share since 1984. Renewable energy, on the other hand, provided an estimated 19% of global final energy consumption in 2012 (electricity, heating, transport) and continued to grow in 2013. Of this total share in 2012, modern renewables accounted for approximately 10%, with the remainder (estimated at just over 9%) coming from traditional biomass. Heat energy from modern renewable sources accounted for an estimated 4.2% of total final energy use; hydropower made up about 3.8% and an estimated 2% was provided by power from wind, solar, geothermal and biomass, as well as by biofuels.

Nuclear safety

Hubbard writes off concerns of nuclear safety in the industry with the circular assertion 'safe because it must be' (although the Fukushima disaster, which he analyses in detail using the excellent independent report of the Japanese Diet which declared the 'myth of nuclear safety', actually contradicts his assertion).

Hubbard insists on using China as an exemplar of nuclear safety, yet his research is wanting. Philippe Jamet, a French nuclear safety commissioner, told his country's parliament earlier last year that Chinese counterparts were 'overwhelmed'. Wang Yi of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, an expert body, has warned that there are indeed 'uncertainties' in China's approach to nuclear safety.

Hubbard doesn't even touch on the proliferation hazards of an expansion of the nuclear industry (Iran is clearly an inconvenient truth); waves away nuclear waste disposal problems (science will fix it); and fudges the (increasingly deteriorating) economics of nuclear power (conveniently absent is the fact that private investors haven't put a cent into nuclear power for decades, unlike renewables).

Furthermore, Hubbard's description of new Generation IV and small modular reactors (these apparently will solve all major problems, e.g. waste, proliferation, accidents) might as well be no more than a cut and paste from a nuclear reactor sales brochure, in its lack of any critical appraisal of these fantasy claims. These designs are literally still only on paper with no track record, and won't be implemented for decades – if at all (too bad for GHG abatement).

The UK Government's Nuclear National Laboratories have released several reports stating that purported benefits of these new-generation reactors are at best overstated. Furthermore, proliferation hazards abound from proposals to use up existing plutonium stocks in these reactors (it needs to be converted to the bomb-ready metallic form first). Their safety is also questionable despite claims to the contrary, as their designs contravene the 'Defence in Depth' principles of nuclear safety of most nuclear regulators (most lack proper secondary containment, especially small modular reactors). In other words, they might never be licensed because they are not safe.

The author's forte is not radiation science and it shows. He lacks an understanding of the various world bodies involved in nuclear power and radiation science. This is disappointing for someone who claims expertise in the nuclear sector. For example, the IAEA is not a global regulatory body, as he claims, but an advisory body that member states join to provide guidance on implementation of nuclear activities. It has no legal jurisdiction to investigate or advise any member state without an invitation by the relevant member state.

The IAEA does have teeth to investigate suspected clandestine-prohibited proliferation-sensitive nuclear-cycle activities, but cannot impose itself (Iran is a case in point) without permission – hardly the global cop the author seems to think it is.

It is the member states themselves which regulate their own nuclear activities. This distinction is critical because it means nuclear safety is dependent on member states willingly implementing international best practice, and furthermore, not engaging in clandestine weapons development. However, where there is a lack of transparency and accountability − the two main principles of nuclear safety − safety is compromised. It is noteworthy that the main countries expanding their nuclear industries are those which rank low on Transparency International's Corruption Perceptions Index.

It is difficult to reconcile the author's views with the real world. The author engages in wishful, uncritical, almost magical thinking on a grand scale in its blandishments of the nuclear power industry.

1. IPCC. 2014. "Summary for Policymakers." In Climate Change 2014: Impacts, Adaptation, and Vulnerability. Part A: Global and Sectoral Aspects. Edited by C. B. Field et al., pp.1–32.

Abridged from Medicine, Conflict and Survival, March 2015,

China's nuclear power plans: safety and security challenges

Nuclear Monitor Issue: 
Jim Green − Nuclear Monitor editor

China is pushing ahead with ambitious plans to expand nuclear power, but the risks are daunting.

China's State Council published the 'Energy Development Strategy Action Plan, 2014-2020' in November. The plan envisages an expansion of nuclear power from 19.1 gigawatts (GW) of currently installed capacity to 58 GW by 2020, with another 30 GW under construction by then. It says that efforts should be focused on promoting the use of large pressurised water reactors (including the AP1000 and CAP1400 designs), high temperature gas-cooled reactors, and fast reactors.1

Ambitious targets for renewables have also been set: 350 GW of hydro capacity by 2020, 200 GW of wind power capacity, and 100 GW of solar capacity. 1 Thus the renewable target of 650 GW greatly exceeds the 58 GW nuclear target. In 2013, for the first time, China added more new renewable capacity than new fossil and nuclear capacity.2

Chinese authorities have a history of failing to meet nuclear power forecasts:

  • In 1985, authorities forecast 20 GW in 2000 but the true figure was 2.2 GW (11% of the forecast).3
  • In 1996, authorities forecast 20 GW in 2010 but the true figure was 8.4 GW (42% of the forecast). 3
  • In late 2012, China revised its plan to have 50 GW of nuclear capacity installed by 2015 down to 40 GW − and the true figure will be around half that.4

The Economist noted in a December 6 article that plans for a massive nuclear expansion should be taken with "a big pinch of salt" and added: "It is true that China is the brightest spot in the global nuclear industry, but that is mostly because prospects in other places are bleak."5

Claims by industry bodies − such as the World Nuclear Association's forecast of 150 GW of nuclear capacity in China by 20306 − should also be taken with a pinch of salt.

In 2010, Chinese officials forecast 130 GW of installed nuclear capacity by 2020 − more than double the current forecast. And the State Council Research Office's 2011 forecast of 70 GW by 2020 has been reduced to 58 GW.2

It is unlikely that the 58 GW target can be reached by 2020. It assumes no closures of the 22 operating reactors, completion of all 27 reactors (29 GW) under construction, and completion of 10 GW that has yet to begin construction − all in the space of six years.


The South China Morning Post noted in a September 2014 article that "China will have to overcome some big hurdles, including conflicts of interest among large state-owned companies, technological uncertainties in new-generation power plants and public concerns about nuclear safety." The newspaper quotes a China Institute of Atomic Energy expert who argues that a shortage of scientists and engineers poses a "major challenge".7

Plans for inland nuclear plants have been delayed by public opposition (especially in the aftermath of the Fukushima disaster), water shortages and other problems. Even the latest plan calls for nothing more than feasibility studies regarding inland plants.

A 2011 report from the State Council Research Office stated that nuclear development would require new investment of around US$150 billion (€121b) by 2020, on top of the costs of plants already under construction. The Office noted that new nuclear projects rely mainly on debt, funds are tight, and "investment risks cannot be discounted". Supply chain problems and bottlenecks could result in delays and further cost increases, the report noted.8

Safety first?

Numerous insiders have warned about inadequate nuclear safety and regulatory standards in China. He Zuoxiu, a member of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, said last year that "to reduce costs, Chinese designs often cut back on safety".9

Li Yulun, a former vice-president of China National Nuclear Corporation, said last year that Chinese "state leaders have put a high priority on [nuclear safety] but companies executing projects do not seem to have the same level of understanding."10

Cables released by WikiLeaks in 2011 highlighted the secrecy of the bidding process for nuclear power plant contracts in China, the influence of government lobbying, and potential weaknesses in management and regulatory oversight. Westinghouse representative Gavin Liu was quoted in a cable as saying: "The biggest potential bottleneck is human resources – coming up with enough trained personnel to build and operate all of these new plants, as well as regulate the industry."11

In August 2009, the Chinese government dismissed and arrested China National Nuclear Corporation president Kang Rixin in a US$260 million (€209m) corruption case involving allegations of bid-rigging in nuclear power plant construction.12


In 2011, Chinese physicist He Zuoxiu warned that "we're seriously underprepared, especially on the safety front" for a rapid expansion of nuclear power. Qiang Wang and his colleagues from the Chinese Academy of Sciences noted in 2011 that China "still lacks a fully independent nuclear safety regulatory agency"13, and they noted that China's nuclear administrative systems are fragmented among multiple agencies; and China lags behind the US, France, and Japan when it comes to staff and budget to oversee operational reactors.14

The 2011 report by the State Council Research Office recommended that the National Nuclear Safety Administration "should be an entity directly under the State Council Bureau, making it an independent regulatory body with authority."8

China's nuclear safety agency is still not independent. And there are other problems: salaries for regulatory staff are lower than in industry, and workforce numbers remain relatively low. The State Council Research Office report said that most countries employ 30−40 regulatory staff per reactor, but China's nuclear regulator had only 1000 staff.8

In 2010, an International Atomic Energy Agency team carried out an Integrated Regulatory Review Service mission and said the review provided "confidence in the effectiveness of the Chinese safety regulatory system."8 Which just goes to prove that the IAEA sometimes says the silliest things − and in the process implicitly endorses and encourages sub-standard practices.

The Economist argued on December 6: "[T]he headlong rush to nuclear power is more dangerous and less necessary than China's government admits. One of the main lessons of Fukushima was that politicised, opaque regulation is dangerous. China's rule-setting apparatus is also unaccountable and murky, and ambitious targets for a risky technology should ring warning bells."15

Nuclear technology options

The Economist points to risks arising from China's approach to nuclear technology options:

"China's approach to building capacity has added to the risk of an accident. Rather than picking a single proven design for new reactors from an experienced vendor and replicating it widely, the government has decided to "indigenise" Western designs. The advantage of this approach is that China can then patent its innovations and make money out of selling them to the world; the downside is that there are now several competing designs promoted by rival state-owned enterprises, none of which is well tested.

"China should slow its nuclear ambitions to a pace its regulators can keep up with, and build its reactors using the best existing technology − which happens to be Western. That need not condemn it to more sooty, coal-fired years. The cost of renewable energy is dropping quickly and its efficiency is rising sharply. Last year, over half of all new power-generation capacity installed in China was hydro, wind or solar. If China wants to accelerate its move away from coal, ramping up those alternatives yet more would be a lot safer."15

Liu Baohua, the head of the nuclear office at the National Energy Administration, recently said that key technology and equipment being deployed in China's nuclear program is "still not completely up to standard". Liu said: "The third-generation reactors now under construction still have problems with the pumps and valves, and with the inflexibility of the design. ... We are working to resolve these problems and the overall situation is still under control." He said more needed to be done to improve the regulatory framework and to train nuclear personnel.16

The '12th 5-year Plan for Nuclear Safety and Radioactive Pollution Prevention and Vision for 2020', produced by the Ministry of Environment and endorsed by the State Council, said that China needed to spend US$13 billion (€10.4b) to improve nuclear safety at over the three years to 2015. The document states that "China has multiple types of nuclear reactors, multiple technologies and multiple standards of safety, which makes them hard to manage."8

China continues to build large numbers of 'Generation II' reactors which lack the safety features of more modern designs. The State Council Research Office report said that reactors built today should operate for 50 or 60 years, meaning a large fleet of Generation II reactors will still be in operation into the 2070s, when even Generation III reactors may have been superceded.8


The EPR reactors under construction at Taishan illustrate some of the problems and risks associated with China's nuclear program. "It's not always easy to know what is happening at the Taishan site," Stephane Pailler from France's Autorite de Surete Nucleaire (ASN) said in an interview this year. "We don't have a regular relationship with the Chinese on EPR control like we have with the Finnish," she said, referring to Finland's troubled EPR reactor project.

Philippe Jamet, one of ASN's five governing commissioners, testified before the French Parliament in February. "Unfortunately, collaboration isn't at a level we would wish it to be," he said. "One of the explanations for the difficulties in our relations is that the Chinese safety authorities lack means. They are overwhelmed."17

In March, EDF's internal safety inspector Jean Tandonnet noted problems evident during a mid-2013 visit to Taishan, including inadequacies with large components like pumps and steam generators which were "far" from the standards of the EPR plants in Finland and France.17

Tandonnet urged corrective measures and wrote that studies "are under way on tsunami and flooding risks."17 has assessed nuclear plants most at risks from a tsunami. Globally, it found that 23 nuclear power plants with 74 reactors are in high-risk areas. The riskiest country is China − of the 27 reactors under construction, 17 are located in areas considered at risk of tsunamis.18

Little information has been published about the Taishan reactor project − and the same could be said about many others. Albert Lai, chairman of The Professional Commons, a Hong Kong think tank, said this year that the workings of China's nuclear safety authority are a ''total black box'' and ''China has no transparency whatsoever.''17

Insurance and liability arrangements

The Economist recently noted that Communist leaders are "keenly aware that a big nuclear accident would prompt an ugly − and, in the age of viral social media, nerve-wrackingly unpredictable − public backlash against the ruling party."5

The backlash would be all the more virulent because of grossly inadequate insurance and liability arrangements. Chinese authorities are slowly developing legislation which may improve the situation. Currently, liability caps are the lowest in the world. Nuclear plant operators must have insurance that covers financial losses and injuries up to 300 million yuan (US$48.5m; €39m). If a legitimate claim exceeds that amount, the central government may provide up to 800 million yuan (US$129m; €104m) extra.19

Closing the fuel cycle, increasing the risks

China's attempt to develop a closed fuel cycle will increase safety and security risks as discussed in an October 2014 paper by Hui Zhang, a physicist and a research associate at Harvard University's Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs.20

In 2010, China conducted a 10-day hot test at its pilot reprocessing plant, where it is also building a pilot MOX fuel fabrication facility. The China National Nuclear Corporation plans to build a medium-scale demonstration reprocessing plant by 2020, followed by a larger commercial reprocessing plant.

Hui Zhang notes that the pilot reprocessing plant lacks an integrated security system. He notes that the 2010 hot test revealed problems: "Although reprocessing operations stopped after only ten days, many problems, including safety and security issues, were encountered or identified. These included both a very high amount of waste produced and a very high measure of material unaccounted for or MUF."

If the closed fuel cycle plans proceed, the long-distance shipment of MOX fuels and metal plutonium fuels will pose major security concerns.

Hui Zhang argues that "China has no convincing rationale for rushing to build commercial-scale reprocessing facilities or plutonium breeder reactors in the next couple of decades, and a move toward breeders and reprocessing would be a move away from more secure consolidation of nuclear materials."

China ranks poorly in the NTI Nuclear Materials Security Index − it is in the bottom fifth of the countries ranked. The NTI summarises: "China's nuclear materials security conditions could be improved by strengthening its laws and regulations for the physical security of materials in transport to reflect the latest IAEA nuclear security guidelines, and for mitigating the insider threat, particularly by requiring personnel to undergo more stringent and more frequent vetting and by requiring personnel to report suspicious behavior to an official authority. China's nuclear materials security conditions also remain adversely affected by its high quantities of weapons-usable nuclear materials, political instability, governance challenges, and very high levels of corruption among public officials."21


1. WNN, 20 Nov 2014, 'China plans for nuclear growth',
2. World Nuclear Industry Status Report, 2014,
3. ACF, 2012, 'Yellowcake Fever: Exposing the Uranium Industry's Economic Myths',
4. Keith Bradsher, 24 Oct 2012, 'China Slows Development of Nuclear Power Plants',
5. 6 Dec 2014, 'Promethean perils',
6. World Nuclear Association, 9 December 2014, 'Nuclear Power in China',
7. Stephen Chen, 14 Sept 2014, 'China plans to be world leader in nuclear power by 2020', South China Morning Post,
8. World Nuclear Association, 9 December 2014, 'Nuclear Power in China',
9. He Zuoxiu, 19 March 2013, 'Chinese nuclear disaster "highly probable" by 2030',
10. South China Morning Post, 7 Oct 2013, 'China nuclear plant delay raises safety concern',
11. Jonathan Watts, 25 Aug 2011, 'WikiLeaks cables reveal fears over China's nuclear safety',
12. Keith Bradsher, 15 Dec 2009, 'Nuclear Power Expansion in China Stirs Concerns',
13. David Biello, 16 Aug 2011, 'China's nuclear ambition powers on',
14. 22 June 2011, 'China needs improved administrative system for nuclear power safety',
15. 6 Dec 2014, 'China's rush to build nuclear power plants is dangerous',
16. Reuters, 5 Dec 2014, 'China's new nuclear technology not yet fully up to standard, energy official says',
17. Tara Patel and Benjamin Haas, 20 June 2014, 'Nuclear Regulators 'Overwhelmed' as China Races to Launch World's Most Powerful Reactor',
18. Oil Price, 4 Nov 2014,
19. 26 April 2014, 'What if China has a Fukushima?',
See also WNN, 16 Sept 2014, 'Insurers can help improve the image of nuclear',
20. Hui Zhang, 8 Oct 2014, 'The Security Risks of China's Nuclear Reprocessing Facilities',
21. NTI Nuclear Materials Security Index, 2014,

Nuclear News

Nuclear Monitor Issue: 

From WISE/NIRS Nuclear Monitor #785, 24 April 2014

To subscribe to Nuclear Monitor, click here.

US NRC issues uranium license on Lakota Indian land

On April 8, the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) issued an operating license to the Powertech Uranium Corp for its proposed in-situ leach (ISL) uranium mine in the Black Hills region of South Dakota. The move came four months ahead of a public hearing scheduled to hear from opponents of the project. The proposed mine still needs final approval from the South Dakota Board of Minerals and Environment, the South Dakota Water Management Board, and the US Environmental Protection Agency before it can began operations.

At least eight other uranium companies are known to be targeting the Black Hills. Lilias Jarding of the Black Hills Clean Water Alliance told The Ecologist: "We're afraid that if this project goes through ... we'll end up with a ring of uranium mines around the Black Hills.

Activists say that Powertech is working to minimise oversight of its operations. In 2011, Powertech secured the passage of legislation effectively barring South Dakota's Department of Environment and Natural Resources from regulating ISL projects, leaving the state with direct oversight only of water-use and waste-disposal issues. The company has also defeated several measures aimed at increasing oversight, including, a bill that would have required Powertech to demonstrate its ability to restore groundwater quality before opening the new mine.

Over a period of two decades beginning in the early 1950s, about a thousand open-cut uranium mines were opened in and around the Black Hills region. The last mine closed in 1973, but the region remains littered with radioactive debris.

He Sapa, the Black Hills, is a sacred site to the Lakota and numerous other Western Tribes who have long gone to the area for ceremony, hunting game, harvesting medicines and for spiritual renewal. Despite the 1980 Supreme Court ruling in United States v. Sioux Nation, that ruled the US illegally stole the Black Hills from the Lakota, the government has refused to return the lands to the Lakota and it remains a continued central source of conflict between the Lakota and the U.S. government.

The proposed uranium mine is opposed by Indian groups, ranchers, environmentalists and the Rapid City Council. Debra White Plume, an Oglala Lakota activist, said: "We're all standing together. This ain't just a handful of little Indians out on the prairies that you can run over ... this is a broad array of resistance to uranium mining. If they close every door to us, then the only door open to us is direct action. You've got to walk through that door if you're serious about protecting yourself and Mother Earth."

Lakota activists fought off a similar uranium-mining project in 2007, and Debra White Plume says she's determined to see off Powertech.

More information:
The Black Hills Clean Water Alliance
Defenders of the Black Hills
Dakota Rural Action

Protecting against insider nuclear threats

Matthew Bunn and Scott Sagan have written a useful paper on insider nuclear threats − 'A Worst Practices Guide to Insider Threats: Lessons from Past Mistakes'. The paper is part of a larger project on insider threats under the Global Nuclear Future project of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

A recent example was the apparent insider sabotage of a diesel generator at the San Onofre nuclear plant in the United States in 2012; the most spectacular was a 1982 incident in which an insider placed explosives directly on the steel pressure vessel head of a nuclear reactor in South Africa and detonated them − thankfully the plant had yet to begin operating. All known thefts of plutonium or highly enriched uranium appear to have been perpetrated by insiders or with the help of insiders. Similarly, most of the sabotage incidents that have occurred at nuclear facilities were perpetrated by insiders.

Bunn and Sagan look at past disasters caused by insiders and draw from them 10 lessons about what not to do. The lessons are as follows:

#1: Don't assume that serious insider problems are NIMO (Not In My Organization)

#2: Don't assume that background checks will solve the insider problem

#3: Don't assume that red flags will be read properly

#4: Don't assume that insider conspiracies are impossible

#5: Don't rely on single protection measures

#6: Don't assume that organizational culture and employee disgruntlement don't matter

#7: Don't forget that insiders may know about security measures and how to work around them

#8: Don't assume that security rules are followed

#9: Don't assume that only consciously malicious insider actions matter

#10: Don't focus only on prevention and miss opportunities for mitigation

Matthew Bunn and Scott Sagan, April 2014, 'A Worst Practices Guide to Insider Threats: Lessons from Past Mistakes', Occasional Paper, American Academy of Arts & Sciences,

Small reactor prospects diminishing

World Nuclear News reported on April 14 that Babcock & Wilcox will slash its spending on the 'mPower' small modular reactor project, having failed to find customers or investors. B&W's mPower design was prioritised for deployment under a five-year cost-matching agreement with the US Department of Energy (DoE), and with the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) named as the lead customer. The three of them supplied a budget of US$150 million [€109m] per year to develop mPower, hoping to build the first unit by 2022. Six units had been pencilled in for TVA's Clinch River site at Oak Ridge, Tennessee.

With the DoE arrangement now one year old, B&W hoped to have secured a number of utility customers for the small reactor as well as investors keen to take a majority share in its development. Spokesperson Aimee Mills said: "There was interest from customers and interest from investors, but none have signed on the dotted line." B&W President E. James Ferland said: "While we have made notable progress in developing a world-class technology, there is still significant work involved in bringing this climate-friendly technology to reality."

B&W has decided to reduce its spending on mPower to a maximum of US$15 million [€10.9m] per year and has begun negotiating with TVA and the DoE to find a workable way to restructure and continue the project.

POWER Magazine notes that "air seems to be leaking out of the SMR balloon lately." In February, Westinghouse announced it would end its 225 MWe Small Modular Reactor project, after a decade of development and many millions of dollars of investment. Westinghouse failed to secure R&D funding from the DoE. CEO Danny Roderick said" "The problem I have with SMRs is not the technology, it's not the deployment − it's that there's no customers."

In the US, DoE-subsidised R&D continues into the 45 MWe NuScale reactor concept. Elsewhere in the world, construction is underway on the 27 MWe CAREM reactor in Argentina, though claims that small reactors will reduce costs are looking increasingly fanciful − the CAREM reactor equates to US$17.84 billion (€13.0 billion) per 1000 MWe. Work continues on two 105 MWe HTR units at Shidaowan in China; and in Russia, plans are in train for a floating nuclear power plant with two 35 MWe reactors mounted on a barge.

Rio Tinto under fire

The Labour Resource and Research Institute and Earthlife Namibia have released a report on the health of workers at Rio Tinto's Rössing uranium mine in Namibia.1 The report was produced as part of the project Environmental Justice Organisations, Liabilities and Trade ( The study is based on 44 questionnaires carried out with current and former mine workers. The recommendations are:

* Rio Tinto should perform a large-scale epidemiology study with independent medical experts to examine those workers who started working in the 1970s or early 1980s.

* The Ministry of Health and Social Services must get unrestricted access to all medical reports of all workers employed by Rössing.

* All mine workers should be able to have access to their own medical reports.

Historically, the Rössing mine supplied uranium for US and UK nuclear weapons. Workers faced dangerous conditions, poor regulations, and high levels of dust. During the early years of operation, Rössing operated with a migrant labor system which the International Commission of Jurists declared illegal and said was similar to slavery.

The Rössing mine was in the news last year because of the December 3 collapse of one of the 12 leach tanks in the mine's processing plant. Just days later, a similar spill occurred at Rio Tinto's Ranger uranium mine in the Northern Territory of Australia.

The company is also being criticised for failing to guarantee the rehabilitation of Ranger unless its plans to expand operations at the site are approved. The latest annual report of Energy Resources of Australia (majority owned by Rio Tinto) states that "... if the Ranger 3 Deeps mine is not developed, in the absence of any other successful development, ERA may require an additional source of funding to fully fund the rehabilitation of the Ranger Project Area."2 And at Rio Tinto's London AGM on April 15, executive Sam Walsh distanced the parent company from responsibility for rehabilitation, saying: "This is a public Australian company and clearly that is an issue for them."

Justin O'Brien from the Gundjeihmi Aboriginal Corporation, which represents the Mirarr Traditional Owners, said: "The attitude of Rio and ERA demonstrates little has changed in the more than three decades since Galarrwuy Yunupingu described talks over the Ranger mine as 'like negotiating with a gun to my head'. The mining giants have made enormous profits at the expense of Mirarr traditional lands and are now holding the Word Heritage listed area to ransom. It is inconceivably thoughtless and arrogant of any mining company to manage its corporate social responsibilities in this way and regrettably brings to mind the comment made by Mirarr Senior Traditional Owner Yvonne Margarula in 2003: 'The promises never last, but the problems always do'."2

Dave Sweeney from the Australian Conservation Foundation said: "Only hours after the complete collapse of the tank ERA − owned by the UK based mining giant Rio Tinto − released a statement high on bravado but low on evidence claiming all contaminants had been contained and that 'there is no impact to the environment'. This predictable and premature assurance highlighted ERA's desire to at least retain control over its perception, if not its pollution. A subsequent site review commissioned by ERA recently confirmed the long held concerns of many stakeholders that the aging plant is at full stretch and raised serious questions about the adequacy of both infrastructure and management systems at Ranger, finding that the mine had 35 other failed or at risk pieces of critical plant infrastructure or equipment with the potential for major human safety or environmental impacts in operation at the time of the tank collapse. The report recommended that processing not resume processing until these items have been repaired or retired while a further 48 critical assets were recommended to be serviced, repaired or retired within 6-12 months of any future plant restart."3

On the day of the London AGM, IndustriALL Global Union released a report, 'Unsustainable: The Ugly Truth about Rio Tinto', highlighting the multinational's global practices.4 The report exposes Rio Tinto's poor performance in relation to environmental, economic, social and governance issues. Workers from numerous countries staged a protest outside the AGM. Kemal Özkan, assistant general secretary of IndustriALL, said: "Rio Tinto's blind pursuit of profit at any cost has caused disputes with numerous unions as well as environmental, community and indigenous groups. IndustriALL has launched a campaign working with civil society organizations to defend against Rio Tinto's abuses. Through demonstrating that Rio Tinto does not operate in a sustainable manner, we aim to force the company to live by its own claims."4

1. Bertchen Kohrs and Patrick Kafuka, April 2014, 'Study on low-level radiation of Rio Tinto's Rössing Uranium mine workers',




Eroding nuclear safeguards

The April 16 edition of Canada's 'Embassy' newspaper discusses the gradual erosion of safeguards requirements associated with uranium exports.1 Previously, Canada required that nuclear material exported to China could only be held in facilities in China named in a 'Voluntary Offer' list that Beijing had agreed to with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). Such facilities can be inspected by the IAEA − albeit the case that IAEA inspections in nuclear weapons states are few and far between.

Under Canada's revised policy, uranium oxide can be (and has been) exported to a conversion plant in China that has not been placed on the Voluntary Offer list. Instead, if material is transferred to a facility that is not on the IAEA list, an "administrative arrangement" kicks in, requiring China to "provide additional reporting to Canada on the uranium." But the administrative arrangement, and others like it, "are considered protected documents and are not available publicly" according to the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission.

Shawn-Patrick Stensil from Greenpeace Canada drew a parallel with Canada's nuclear exports to India: "We've now been moving to selling uranium to markets that have bomb programs, and our non-proliferation policy is dying a death by a thousand cuts. I think this will eventually come back to bite us."

Reuters reported on April 14 that the US, UK, Czech Republic and the Netherlands submitted a paper to a meeting of the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) calling on the NSG − a voluntary, 48-country group − to relax its rules to allow nuclear exports to countries such as Israel.2 The paper, seen by Reuters, is a masterpiece of obfuscation. Instead of talking about nuclear exports (to a nuclear weapons state outside the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty), it talks about "facilitated export arrangements".

And this is the indecipherable rationale for weakening nuclear export norms: "With technology progressing at an ever increasing rate, globalised supply chains, and more and more countries developing nuclear and dual use capabilities, the possibility of trade in nuclear related goods between governments not participating in the NSG is becoming more and more likely. ... In order to stay ahead of the curve, the NSG's goals − to control the export of nuclear sensitive goods − might be best served by an open-minded approach aimed at cooperation with non-NSG members and promoting transparency of the NSG guidelines."

A former Israeli nuclear official told Reuters that Israel for years had tried to get the NSG to recognise it as a so-called adherent country "on the strength of the justified truth that Israel is a responsible state", but a number of NSG member states have objected.

There is an ongoing push from the US, UK and others to include India as a member of the NSG. India was granted a "clean waiver" by the NSG in 2008, an important step towards opening up nuclear trade despite India's status as a rogue nuclear weapons states that refuses to sign the NPT or the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty and is expanding its nuclear weapons arsenal.

Islamabad is also lobbying to be included in the NSG and for an end to prohibitions on nuclear trade with Pakistan.3 China is already using the US−India precedent to expand nuclear exports to Pakistan.




Kazakhstan nuclear company head arrested for corruption

Valery Shevelyov, the executive director of Kazakhstan's major uranium producer and nuclear-fuel cycle operator KazAtomProm, was arrested on April 1 on corruption charges. An investigation regarding the construction of new KazAtomProm facilities named Shevelyov as a suspect in the embezzling US$710 million [€514m], according to Kazakh State Anti-corruption Agency. Shevelyov's predecessor Muhtar Dzhakishev has been in prison since 2009 on similar charges.

European Parliament calls for action on depleted uranium

The European Parliament has called on the EU's Council of Ministers to ensure that all member states support an upcoming UN General Assembly resolution on depleted uranium (DU). The resolution will be tabled in October. Each year the European Parliament provides recommendations to the EU's Council of Ministers on positions that EU member states should take during voting. This year the parliament has called on member states to develop a common EU position that better reflects the overwhelming and repeated calls by the parliament for a global moratorium on the weapons.

At present the EU is split on the topic, with DU users the UK and France opposed during UN votes − two of only four states worldwide to oppose the resolutions, along with the US and Israel − while the rest of the EU votes in favour or abstains. While the number of EU states abstaining each time has been decreasing, continued abstentions by the likes of Sweden and Denmark have been a source of frustration for national campaigns. Globally, 155 states supported the most recent UN resolution on DU in 2012, and the split position within the EU is something of an anomaly in the face of an emerging global consensus.

Renewable energy potential in Europe

An analysis for Greenpeace suggests that it is possible to get 77% of Europe's electricity from renewable sources by 2030 with the help of smart grids, demand management, gas backup and big changes in how the power grid works. The model suggests that by taking a European approach (rather than planning by country) and using a (relatively) new type of power cable the cost of integrating new renewables into the grid can be significantly cut. The report suggests that by 2030 Europe's grid will be able to absorb a renewable share of 77% with some countries, such as Spain, getting all their power from renewable sources. The UK would be on 70%. Around half of Europe's power (53%) would come from wind and solar PV panels.

Chinese inland provinces: Nuclear power at the crossroads

Nuclear Monitor Issue: 
Wen Bo − Policy and Media Advisor, National Geographic Society

NM790.4410 In the hope of becoming China's first inland nuclear power project, Pengze Nuclear Power Project (owned by China Power Investment Group) in Jiangxi Province has begun pre-construction work. However, the project has met resistance from the government and residents of the downstream Wangjiang prefecture in neighbouring Anhui Province. The Wangjiang government has publicly accused Pengze Project of falsifying its EIA report. Such confrontation shows Wangjiang's deep concern over the close proximity of a nuclear power plant.

Nuclear power requires large volumes of water for cooling. Adequate water supply is the key factor for identifying potential plant sites. Pengze was chosen due to its proximity to the Taipo Lake and the Yangtze River. However, unlike inland nuclear project areas in the United States, which often have few people downstream, China is relatively densely populated. China's vast river network and dense population distribution mean inland nuclear power stations have many inherent risks.

If radioactive liquid materials are not safely disposed of, large amounts of water used for cooling could be polluted, and the element boron from the pressurized reactor will be released into the environment along with waste-water. The polluted rivers provide drinking water and irrigation sources for many people living downstream.

Although the Pengze project in Jiangxi was opposed by Anhui province, Anhui itself has also started developing its own nuclear power projects. Wuhu Project is the first of them. It is being developed by China General Nuclear Power Group, which owns several nuclear projects, and is located in Fanchang County along the Yangtze River, upstream of Wuhu City.

Electricity generated by the Wuhu project will be delivered to the Eastern China Power Grid. In addition to satisfying its own needs, it will be exported to Zhejiang, Jiangsu and Shanghai. Huge investment and construction costs will inevitably be reflected in the electricity price. It is expected that Anhui will either become an inland nuclear power exporting province or face rising energy costs, especially in the southern part, including Wuhu city. If not, the investment costs in the Wuhu project will not be able to be recovered and thereby might become a burden on taxpayers and the provincial government.

China's nuclear power capacity growth

The National Energy Administration's 2013 Energy Statistical Report states that nuclear power currently accounts for 1.2% of China's domestic energy production. According to the 'Nuclear Power Mid to Long-Term Development Plan (2005-2020)', officially approved by the State Council in October 2007, the installed capacity of nuclear power in operation by 2020 is expected to reach 40 gigawatts (GW), and its portion of the energy mix will rise to 4%. By 2010, a new plan for 2010−2020 was drafted by the National Development & Reform Commission (NDRC), aiming to double the previous 2020 target to 80 GW.

Due to the controversy raised by this new goal, the plan was not approved by the State Council. However, since information related to this new plan had already been circulated, it raised expectations from the nuclear power industry and also helped its performance on various financing platforms including stock markets. Regardless, after the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Disaster in March 2011, approvals for nuclear power projects, including for all pre-project work, were suspended.

By October 2012, the State Council approved the 'Nuclear Power Safety Plan (2011-2020)' and the 'Nuclear Power Mid to Long-Term Development Plan (2011-2020)'. It should be noted that the newly approved plan only allows nuclear power build-up in specifically approved zones along the coast, and does not allow any inland projects during the 12th Five Year Plan. However, no specific target was given. Subsequently, in January 2013, the State Council's Energy 12th Five Year Plan (2011-2015) states that the installed capacity of nuclear power in operation by 2015 will reach 40 GW and the installed capacity under construction will reach 18 GW.

According to Mr. Zhang Huazhu, Director of China Nuclear Energy Association, by the end of 2020, China's installed capacity of existing and under-construction nuclear power may reach 88 GW.

As of the end of March 2014, China had completed or started construction of a total installed nuclear capacity of nearly 48.7 GW. In May and June 2014, NDRC approved an additional six new nuclear power projects in four provinces totaling 15.2 GW:

* Liaoning: Dalian Hongyanhe Phase II (2.5 GW) & Huludao Xudabao Phase I (2.5 GW);

* Shandong: Haiyang Phase II (2.5 GW) & Rongcheng Pilot (0.2 GW)

* Zhejiang: Sanmen Phase II (5 GW); and

* Guangdong: Lufeng Phase I (2.5 GW)

Water requirements

Two out of three of China's planned 28 inland nuclear plants are in medium and extremely water-scarce regions. Prior to the Fukushima Nuclear Disaster, 28 inland nuclear power projects (including previously mentioned Pengze) with 59 pre-selected plant sites were submitted by provincial governments to Beijing (pre-August 2007). These projects were classified according to the abundance of water resources. If we adopt the climate type classification of wet/dry regions: three projects are in arid and semi-arid regions and 25 projects are in wet and semi-wet regions. However, if we use the level of water scarcity, more than 17 planned projects fall in medium and extremely water-scarce regions.

A 5 GW nuclear power plant uses nearly 500,000 cubic metres of water per day. At present, China's inland nuclear power stations mainly use AP1000 units. During normal operation, four AP1000 units require a maximum of 498,600 cubic metres of fresh water per day and 156 million cubic metres per year.

By the end of July 2014, China had 19 units in operation, 29 units under construction, and 225 units being planned. To ensure safe operation, the plants will need enough water to cool the reactors for a minimum of 30 days under all circumstances. The increasing number of nuclear power projects will inevitably lead to competition for water between nuclear power plants and other energy producers.

Apart from the largest water use in "conventional islands" of the plant, the workers living within the plant site, as well as the circulation pump shaft seal and nuclear island also require lots of water. In addition, washing and sealing also require water.

The water demand during the repair period will also be much higher than that during normal operation period. Moreover, the water reuse rates among China's nuclear power plants are also very low: for example, the reuse rate of Lingao Phase I is only 3.75%.

Inland Nuclear Power Projects Planned Prior to August 2007




















































Source: Huang Bensheng, Qiu Jing, Liu Da and Ma Rui. Study on the Impacts of Inland Nuclear Power Plants on Water Security and Mitigations Measures. Proceedings of 2013 Annual Conference of Chinese Hydraulic Engineering Society, 2013

Power struggle: water authorities and nuclear developers

Nuclear power operators rely on a sufficient water supply. However, in China, water resources are managed by the water conservancy and hydropower authorities, who hold a negative view toward nuclear power. The battle between hydropower and nuclear power is fierce, and the competition exists in many areas outside of water, including lobbying for preferential policies and central investment funds, and securing bank and capital financing. The politics also differ.

The Ministry of Water Resources is trying to choke nuclear growth to protect China's limited water resources, while the nuclear power developers are requesting more water allocation for the sake of public safety. In the end, all problems, be they investment losses or threats to the environment, will be ultimately borne by the state and the people.

UK nuclear power deal − much ado about nothing?

Nuclear Monitor Issue: 
Jim Green - Nuclear Monitor editor

The UK Government and French utility EDF have reached initial agreement on terms of a proposed contract for the Hinkley Point C (HPC) nuclear power station in Somerset, paving the way for the construction of the first new nuclear plant in the UK since Sizewell B began operation in 1995. Operation of the first of two 1.6 gigawatt (GW) HPC reactors is scheduled to commence in 2023. The government's October 21 announcement says HPC will "begin the process of replacing the existing fleet of nuclear stations, most of which are due to close in the 2020s."[1]

However the HPC project faces many hurdles and potential delays. The government said the agreement with EDF is not legally binding.[1] EDF said it will not give the go-ahead for construction until and unless the European Commission clears the government/EDF agreement under state aid rules designed to prevent the distortion of Europe's electricity market. EDF said it would make its final investment decision by July 2014, but the European Commission examination may take longer.

Stop Hinkley spokesperson Nikki Clark said the "announcement was much ado over nothing and despite all the fanfare and visits of the rich and famous to Hinkley, there is no legally binding agreement, nor will there be until the government get their plans past the European Commission which, according to various media outlets, would be summer 2014 at the earliest."[2]

Labour MP Alan Whitehead said "it's not much of a deal, more a kind of semi crayoned-in statement of intent and a very expensive one at that. ... At the moment there seem to be a lot more things that we don't know than things we do know about this deal." Whitehead notes that in 2009, EDF said it planned to start producing power at Hinkley C in 2017.[3] So with the current 2023 start-up date, the project is already six years behind schedule.

It may be that economics, along with the myriad implications of the Fukushima disaster, kill off the current HPC project just as Margaret Thatcher's plans for HPC were killed off by economics and Chernobyl.[4]

The government's October 21 announcement states that project partners would be required to start putting money into a fund from the first day of electricity generation to pay for decommissioning and waste management costs associated with HPC.[1] However it is silent on where the waste might be disposed of. Martin Forwood from Cumbrians Opposed to a Radioactive Environment said: "The Government's fetish for nuclear power, which has seen Ministers scraping the world's barrel for investors to support its craving, is only matched by its determination to see the industry's nuclear wastes dumped in suspect geology in Cumbria."[5]


EDF plans to build EPRs (European Pressurized Reactor) at Hinkley and Sizewell. No EPRs are operating − or have ever operated − anywhere in the world. The construction of two EPRs in China appears to be on schedule and largely untroubled [6] − though of course the Chinese state is not known for its transparency.

The other two EPR projects − one reactor each in Finland and France − have been disastrous. When the contract was signed in 2003 for a new EPR in Finland, completion was anticipated in 2009. Now, commercial operation is not anticipated until 2015 — six years behind schedule.[7] And utility TVO recently announced that it is "prepared for the possibility" that the plant may not start up until 2016 − seven years behind schedule.[8] The estimated cost has ballooned from 3 billion euros to 8 billion.[9] Project partners Areva and TVO have been engaged in extensive, ongoing litigation regarding cost overruns.[10]

EDF's Flamanville 3 EPR reactor in France is behind schedule — it was originally meant to enter service in 2012 but that date has been pushed back to 2016.[11] Its estimated cost has grown from 3.3 billion euros to 8.5 billion.[12]

The Daily Mail characterised the French EPR project as one "beset by financial mismanagement with rocketing costs, the deaths of workers, an appalling inability to meet construction deadlines, industrial chaos, and huge environmental concerns", and notes that "it continues to be plagued by delays, soaring costs, and litigation in both the criminal and civil courts." A report by France's nuclear safety authority in 2011 found 13 incidents of below-standard safety measures. In 2011, two former EDF employees were jailed for spying on anti-nuclear campaigners and the company was fined £1.2 million for the crime.[13] Italian utility Enel pulled out of the project last December.[14]

Chinese partners

The EDF Group has announced the intent of two Chinese companies, China National Nuclear Corporation (CNNC) and China General Nuclear Corporation (CGN), to invest in HPC as minority shareholders, following the signing earlier in October of a Memorandum of Understanding on nuclear energy cooperation between the UK and Chinese governments.[1]

EDF has been working as a partner with CGN and CNNC for 30 years, including a joint venture to build two EPRs in Taishan, China.[15]

According to Nuclear Energy Insider, EDF will have between a 45% and 50% stake in the project, CNNC and CGN will take 30-40% between them, Areva will take 10%, and EDF is discussing with interested companies about the remaining 15%.[16] The sovereign wealth funds of Kuwait or Qatar are rumoured to be in the running; in 2010 the Kuwait Investment Authority paid 600 million euros for a 4.8% stake in Areva.[17]

Of the four major partners − EDF, Areva, CNNC and CGN − three are 100% state-owned and one is 85% state-owned; two are French and two Chinese.[18]

No UK firms are involved after Centrica pulled out of the HPC project earlier this year. Centrica chief executive Sam Laidlaw said that since its initial investment the "anticipated project costs in new nuclear have increased" while the construction timetable "has extended by a number of years".[19] Other utilities have also given up on the UK nuclear program; for example German utilities E.on and RWE reneged on their promise to invest in new nuclear at Anglesey.[20]

Former Labour Party chancellor Alistair Darling said the government should look at publicly funding new nuclear plants: "It will be the next generation that pay for these very high wholesale prices of electricity and the point is, you need to ask yourself would it be better for the state to do it as opposed to what looks like quite an expensive deal?"[21]

Chinese investment in the UK nuclear program has generated some consternation. Consultant John Large said: "We can see that even with the French operatorship of UK nuclear power stations [through EDF] that there are differences in the regulatory regimes in France and the UK. But these problems would be much more profound with the Chinese, who like the Russians, are rooted in a government system without independent [safety] regulators."[22]

A GMB union leader said it was "almost Orwellian" to allow a country like China, which has been linked to allegations of corporate hacking, to be allowed access to highly sensitive energy infrastructure. A survey of 75 companies in major emerging economies by Transparency International found that Chinese companies were the least likely to publish financial information and vital details about corporate structure that allows them to be held to account.[22]

China's domestic nuclear power program certainly leaves much to be desired. He Zuoxiu, a member of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, said earlier this year that "to reduce costs, Chinese designs often cut back on safety".[24]

Li Yulun, a former vice-president of CNNC, said in October that Chinese "state leaders have put a high priority on [nuclear safety] but companies executing projects do not seem to have the same level of understanding." Li Yulun noted that Westinghouse has yet to receive approval from British authorities for a modified version of the AP1000 reactor design, while Chinese nuclear safety regulators approved it several years earlier.[25]

In August 2009, the Chinese government dismissed and arrested CNNC president Kang Rixin in a US$260 million corruption case involving allegations of bid-rigging in nuclear power plant construction.[26]

The first reactor designed and built entirely by the Chinese — in 1990 at Qinshan — had to be torn down and rebuilt because of faults in the foundation and the welding of the steel vessel that contained the reactor itself.[27]

In 2011, Chinese physicist He Zuoxiu warned that "we're seriously underprepared, especially on the safety front" for a rapid expansion of nuclear power. Qiang Wang and his colleagues from the Chinese Academy of Sciences noted in April 2011 that China "still lacks a fully independent nuclear safety regulatory agency."[27] They also noted that China's nuclear administrative systems are fragmented among multiple agencies; and China also lags behind the US, France, and Japan when it comes to staff and budget to oversee operational reactors.[28]

Cables released by WikiLeaks in 2011 highlight the secrecy of the bidding process for nuclear power plant contracts in China, the influence of government lobbying, and potential weaknesses in the management and regulatory oversight. Westinghouse representative Gavin Liu was quoted in a cable as saying: "The biggest potential bottleneck is human resources – coming up with enough trained personnel to build and operate all of these new plants, as well as regulate the industry."[29]

The UK government / EDF agreement has reinvigorated cross-channel rivalries. The Daily Mail explained "why we can't trust the French with Britain's nuclear future" and complained that "huge profits are expected to be milked from British consumers to go to the French."[13]

Economic jiggery-pokery

Most reports estimate a total construction cost of £16 billion for the two 1.6 GW reactors at Hinkley Point, while World Nuclear News gives a cost estimate of £14 billion.[30] The £16 billion estimate equates to £5 billion / GW (US$8.1 b / GW).

EDF (and its partners) will be guaranteed a minimum price − a 'strike price' − for the electricity generated by HPC. If wholesale market prices are below the strike price, the government makes up the difference; if market prices are higher, EDF will have to pay back to government. The government announcement nominates a strike price of £89.50 / megawatt-hour (MWh), fully indexed to the Consumer Price Index, or £92.50/MWh if EDF does not take a final investment decision on proposed new reactors at Sizewell, Suffolk.[1] Those figures are around twice the current wholesale price.

The government announcement flags various circumstances which would lead to upwards or downwards movement of the strike price. The guaranteed minimum price will apply for 35 years.[1]

Paul Dorfman from University College London's Energy Institute says the deal ties consumers into subsidising one energy source for a whole generation − potentially at a very high level. In contrast, renewable energy sources' shorter contracts mean the subsidy can be cut if the costs of building wind turbines or solar panels fall. Dorfman predicts that the cost of nuclear "will flatline or hike, while renewables will do nothing but go down".[31]

Dorfman said the government/EDF agreement "is essentially a subsidy of what we calculate to be £800 million to £1billion a year that the UK taxpayer and energy consumer will be putting into the deep pockets of Chinese and French corporations, which are essentially their governments."[32]

In addition to the strike price deal, the government has offered to provide a loan guarantee for HPC of up to £10 billion under a scheme whereby the government uses its balance sheet to provide guarantees for major infrastructure projects.[19]

Previous promises that nuclear power would not be subsidised have clearly been breached, notwithstanding disingenuous government claims that the strike price deal and the loan guarantee do not represent subsidies. A number of expert witnesses voiced scepticism at a recent hearing of the UK Environmental Audit Committee. "This is a huge public contribution towards yesterday's energy thinking," said Alan Simpson, a former Labour MP. "I just wonder what we are inhaling."[33]

The government has been indulging in creative accounting and jiggery-pokery. The October 21 announcement asserts that the HPC project "will ... reduce consumer bills over the long-term" [1] but on the same day turncoat LibDem minister Ed Davey said: "I can't guarantee that. There are huge uncertainties here. It would be absurd to say we can guarantee everything in the 2020s."[32]

Since the 2010 promise that there would be "no public subsidy" of new nuclear, ministers have bundled up nuclear with green energy sources to claim that there would be no "unfair" subsidies for nuclear compared to other green sources. That intellectual contortion will need to be unravelled in the coming months as Prime Minister Cameron plans to reduce green levies ... without reducing subsidies available to the nuclear program.

Government claims about job creation have been equally disingenuous. Nuclear critic Tom Burke said: "The Prime Minister proudly boasted that this would create 25,000 jobs. He forgot to mention that only 900 of them will be permanent and that most of the high value jobs will be abroad. He also forgot to mention that the cost per job is over £600,000. This compares rather badly with the 320,000 jobs that could be created spending the same amount on really delivering energy efficiency improvements for British energy consumers."[34]

The government/EDF agreement "is another disgraceful example of profit being privatised and risk being socialised," Burke said.

Greenpeace UK executive director John Sauven said: "Hinkley C fails every test – economic, consumer, and environmental. It will lock a generation of consumers into higher energy bills, via a strike price that's nearly double the current price of electricity, and it will distort energy policy by displacing newer, cleaner, technologies that are dropping dramatically in price."[35]

A Greenpeace briefing paper states that the HPC strike price is not only almost double the current market price for electricity, but also well over twice the Department of Energy and Climate Change's original cost estimate for nuclear power of £38/MWh.[36]

Antony Froggatt from the Chatham House think-tank noted that in 2006, EDF's submission to a government energy review said that EPR-produced electricity would cost £28.80 / MWh in 2013 values. "This more than threefold increase [to £92.50], over eight years, puts the cost of nuclear electricity at about double the current market rate – higher than that produced by both gas and coal-fired power stations, and more costly than many renewable energy options," Froggatt said.[37]

Even nuclear convert George Monbiot weighed in with sharp criticisms: "Seven years ago, I collected all the available cost estimates for nuclear power. ... 8.3 pence was so far beyond what anyone else forecast that I treated it as scarcely credible. It falls a penny short of the price now agreed by the British government. I still support nuclear power. But none of this means that we should accept nuclear power at any cost. And at Hinkley Point the cost is too high."[38]

Monbiot adds: "That's not the only respect in which the price is too high. A fundamental principle of all development is that we should know how the story ends. In this case no one has the faintest idea. Cumbria – the only local authority which seemed prepared to accept a dump for the nuclear waste from past and future schemes – rejected the proposal in January. No one should commission a mess without a plan for clearing it up."

Monbiot's solution is nothing if not quixotic − non-existent liquid thorium reactors and non-existent integral fast reactors.

[1] Edward Davey and David Cameron, 21 October 2013, 'Initial agreement reached on new nuclear power station at Hinkley',
[2] Stop Hinkley, 22 Oct 2013,
[3] Alan Whitehead, 24 Oct 2013,
[4] Allan Jeffery, 31 July 2013, 'The Hinkley nuclear power station will never be built',
[5] Cumbrians Opposed to a Radioactive Environment, 21 Oct 2013, 'Nothing welcome about Government's new build deal',
[6] Francois de Beaupuy and Tara Patel, 25 Nov 2010, 'China Builds Nuclear Reactor for 40% Less Than Cost in France, Areva Says',
[7] WNN,
[8] WNN, 24 Oct 2013, 'Symbolic milestone for Finnish EPR',
[10] WNN, 11 Feb 2013, 'TVO prepares for further Olkiluoto 3 delay',
[13] Steve Bird, 26 Oct 2013, 'Deaths, chilling safety lapses, lawsuits, huge cost over-runs and delays: Why we can't trust the French with Britain's nuclear future',
[14] Reuters, 26 Feb 2013,
[15] Aaron Larson, 23 Oct 2013, 'Agreement Sets Stage for Construction of New Nuclear Plant in UK',
[16] K. Steiner-Dicks, 23 Oct 2013, 'Hinkley Point C strikes a price',
[17] Reuters, 23 Oct 2013,
[18]Wales Online, 26 Oct 2013,
[19] Tom Fitzpatrick, 8 Feb 2013, 'Treasury willing to back Hinkley nuclear plant with UK Guarantee', Construction News,
[20] Alex Brummer, 21 Oct 2013, 'Nuclear deal is a devastating indictment of the muddled approach of successive governments',
[21] Construction News, 28 Oct 2013,
[22] Terry Macalister and Jennifer Rankin, 18 Oct 2013, 'Nuclear expert raises concerns about Chinese role in UK's new nuclear plants',
[24] He Zuoxiu, 19 March 2013, 'Chinese nuclear disaster "highly probable" by 2030',
[25] South China Morning Post, 7 Oct 2013, 'China nuclear plant delay raises safety concern',
[26] Keith Bradsher, 15 Dec 2009, 'Nuclear Power Expansion in China Stirs Concerns',
[27] David Biello, 16 Aug 2011, 'China's nuclear ambition powers on',
[28] 'China needs improved administrative system for nuclear power safety', 22 June 2011,
[29] Jonathan Watts, 25 Aug 2011, 'WikiLeaks cables reveal fears over China's nuclear safety',
[30]WNN, 28 June 2013, 'Loan guarantee for Hinkley Point C',
[31] 'An Overview of the New Nuclear Deal in the UK', 21 Oct 2013,
[32] Tamara Cohen, 21 Oct 2013, 'Nuclear plant may NOT cut bills, minister admits',
[33] Michael Klimes, 23 Oct 2013, 'Subsidy-Free Nuclear Deal Questioned by Environmental Audit Committee',
[34] Tom Burke, 25 Oct 2013,
[35] Business Green, 21 Oct 2013,
[36] Greenpeace, Hinkley Strike Price Briefing,
[37] Guardian, 21 Oct 2013,
[38] George Monbiot, 22 Oct 2013, 'The farce of the Hinkley C nuclear reactor will haunt Britain for decades',

More information:

(Written by Nuclear Monitor editor Jim Green.)


China cancels nuclear fuel centre following protests

Nuclear Monitor Issue: 
Jim Green - Nuclear Monitor editor

The Chinese government has abandoned plans for a huge nuclear fuel centre in Guangdong province. At a projected cost of US$7.32 billion, the Heshan Nuclear Power Industry Park was to be equipped with facilities for uranium conversion and enrichment as well as manufacturing of fuel pellets, rods and finished assemblies. It was to be a joint venture between China National Nuclear Corp (CNNC) and China General Nuclear (CGN). The joint venture partners are now looking again at a range of other siting options.[1,2]

Land clearing for the project went smoothly. The government sent notices to residents in four villages to relocate and they received compensation within two to three weeks. Villagers were told that the land would be used to build an industrial park. But public concern began to grow and villagers were surprised that the "industrial park" they had been told about was going to process radioactive fuel. On July 12, more than 1,000 protesters descended on the offices of the Heshan city government to oppose the project. Heshan and Jiangmen officials hastily called a press conference and promised to run more TV programs to educate the public.[3,4]

On July 13, a notice that the project had been cancelled was posted on the Jiangmen government's website. "The people's government of the city of Heshan has decided to respect the public opinion and will not consider the CNNC Longwan industrial park project," it said.

On July 14, residents gathered again outside Jiangmen's government headquarters, worried that the project had merely been postponed, but the city's Communist Party chief emerged to reassure them that it had indeed been scrapped for good.

Reflecting on the failed project, some government officials blamed old bureaucratic habits for alienating the public. One official pointed to the fact that officials and party committees lacked social media accounts that could have been used to get their side of the story across. Officials probably feared that the protests could escalate to the scale of those provoked by large chemical-factory projects in recent years.

One official said: "The more we explained, the more people believed we were deceiving them." For example, a Q&A on the local government's website responded to a question about risks in the event that the plant was bombed during warfare by stating: "Given that it is a civilian nuclear facility, the plant is protected by international law and could not be attacked during wartime."[5]

The Economist reflected on the events: "The government in Beijing would be happy if anti-nuclear protests were to stay at the level of bickering between counties or even the occasional outburst of nimbyism, as in Jiangmen. But there is a risk that the success of Jiangmen residents in securing a change of heart could encourage others. ... As well as complicating China's nuclear plans, such protests would raise fears in Beijing of something more worrying: an anti-nuclear movement becoming a cover for anti-government activity. Taiwan offers a precedent. In the 1980s opponents of the island's authoritarian government rallied public support for their cause by tapping into public concerns about nuclear power. The Communist Party does not want to run that kind of risk."[6]

While anti-nuclear activism has been uncommon in China, a nuclear project in Guangxi Province was reportedly halted in February due to public opposition.[7]

Anti-nuclear activism is stronger in nearby Hong Kong, where groups including Greenpeace and Friends of the Earth have launched a petition to oppose further expansion of nuclear capacity in Guangdong.[8]

"Chinese civil society is getting stronger," said Willy Wo-Lap Lam, an adjunct professor of history at the Chinese University of Hong Kong. "People now realize if their numbers are big enough, if they are united and stand their ground, the government will back down."


In brief

Nuclear Monitor Issue: 

Nigeria signs agreement with Rosatom. Last issue we made a funny remark about Nigeria’s announcement that it selected two sites for the construction of nuclear power reactors, but only a few days later the country signed a cooperation accord with Russia’s Rosatom towards the construction of its first nuclear power plant. Rosatom chief Sergei Kiriyenko signed a memorandum of understanding with the chairman of the Nigerian Atomic Energy Commission, Franklin Erepamo Osaisai. Its terms will see the two countries "prepare a comprehensive program of building nuclear power plants in Nigeria," including the development of infrastructure and a framework and system of regulation for nuclear and radiation safety.

Sergei Kiriyenko is quoted in Leadership newspaper to have said that  the contract would cover the building of nuclear power plant (1200MW) worth about US$4.5 billion (about N697 billion). In 2010 Nigeria said it aimed to have 1000 MW of nuclear generation in place by 2019 with another 4000 MW online by 2030. Although not all contracts Rosatom signed have materialized in the past, however, Nigeria is, one of the very few African countries pursuing a nuclear energy program.
World Nuclear News, 4 June 2012 / Leadership Newspapers (Nigeria), 13 June 2012

Fear nuclear safety is in stake in harsh competition for sales.
Nuclear-reactor makers are offering prices too low to cover costs to win orders abroad in a strategy that puts earnings at risk, according to Andre-Claude Lacoste, head of the French Autorite de Surete Nucleaire regulator. “Export contracts for nuclear plants are being obtained at pure dumping-level prices,” Lacoste fears that nuclear safety could be compromised in trying to win tenders. “Prices accepted by vendors and obtained by buyers are unsustainable,” he said. “There aren’t many tenders, which is why competitors are ripping each other off. It’s already a serious matter, and we need to make sure that there’s no dumping on safety on top of that.”
Bloomberg, 6 June 2012

Academic study on IAEA.
Just published: a new research report Unleashing the Nuclear Watchdog: Strengthening and Reform of the IAEA, by Trevor Findlay. The report is the outcome of the two-and-a-half year research project on “Strengthening and Reform of the IAEA” conducted by the CCTC and CIGI. The project aimed to carry out a “root and branch” study of the Agency to examine its current strengths and weaknesses and make recommendations for bolstering and, if necessary, reforming it. According to the preface this academic study of the Agency “is needed not just in the light of accumulating challenges to the IAEA’s future and the increasing demands made on it by its member states, but because the Agency itself is demanding more support and resources. At a time of financial stringencies, many of the countries that traditionally have offered such support seek proper justification for any increases.” Findlay concludes that the IAEA is irreplaceable: “like the United Nations itself, if it did not exist it would have to be invented”.

However, this report is a good source for general information about the Agency that was founded to “accelerate and enlarge the contribution of atomic energy to peace, health and prosperity throughout the world,” while ensuring, “so far as it is able,” that this does not “further any military purpose”.
Unleashing the nuclear watchdog is available at: href=""

China: nuclear safety plan but no approval for new projects yet.
China has approved a nuclear safety plan and says its nuclear power plants meet the latest international safety standards, though some plants need to improve their ability to cope with flooding and earthquakes, state media said on May 31. But the government has not made any decision on when to start approving new nuclear plant projects.

China suspended approvals of new nuclear power plants in the wake of Japan's nuclear crisis in March 2011 following a devastating tsunami, and ordered nationwide safety checks on existing plants and construction sites. It also pledged to review its nuclear power development plan. The State Council, China's Cabinet, now approved a nuclear safety plan for 2011-2015 in a meeting chaired by Premier Wen Jiabao. China also aims to enhance nuclear safety standards and lower the risks of nuclear radiation by 2020, the report said.

A nine-month safety inspection of China's 41 nuclear power plants, which are either operating or under construction, showed that most of China's nuclear power stations meet both Chinese and International Atomic Energy Agency standards, according to the report. However, some individual power plants need to improve their ability to prevent damage from serious accidents such as earthquakes, flooding or tsunami, it said.
Reuters, 31 May 2012

Switzerland: court rejects Mühleberg extension.
BKW, the operator of the Mühleberg nuclear power plant, must submit a full maintenance plan, or shut down the plant in June 2013. The Federal Supreme Court has rejected BKW’s request for an injunction, after earlier this year the Federal Administrative Court pulled Mühleberg’s right to an unlimited permit. Federal environment officials had reasoned BKW could have an indefinite operating permit so long as the Federal Nuclear Safety Inspectorate was monitoring site maintenance and safety issues. The court ruled BKW needed to submit maintenance and safety plans, especially with known concerns over the site’s cooling system, and cracks in the core shroud.
World Radio Switzerland, 29 May 2012

Lithuania opposes construction of N-plants close to its borders.
On May 28, Lithuanian Foreign Minister Audronius Azubalis blasted plans by Russia and Belarus to build nuclear power plants close to its borders, accusing both of lax safety and environmental standards and "bypassing international safety and environmental standards." "This is not just an issue for Lithuania... it should be a matter of concern to all countries in this region. We should do everything possible to make these two projects develop according to international standards. It is vital," Azubalis said, following talks in Riga with Latvian Foreign Minister Edgars Rinkevics. Rinkevics offered a cautious endorsement of Azubalis' concerns.  Asked by AFP what proof Lithuania had concerning the safety of the Russian and Belarusian projects, Azubalis said he had yet to receive satisfactory responses to written requests for information through official channels including the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and Espoo Convention Committee. The Lithuanian foreign ministry provided AFP with a document dated May 4 expressing "deep concern" over an alleged recent accident at Russia's Leningrad NPP-2 nuclear facility, which is still under construction. "The incident in Leningrad NPP-2 raises a number of serious questions about the safety of this and two other planned (plants) near Lithuanian borders and the capital Vilnius which are projected to be based on the same technology and possibly the same means of construction," the document states.

Lithuania and Latvia, together with Estonia and Japanese company Hitachi, have putative plans of their own to construct a joint nuclear power plant at Visaginas in northern Lithuania to replace the Soviet-era Ignalina facility which was shut down in 2009.
AFP, 28 may 2012

Flying into trouble at Sellafield
Unusual pathways by which radioactivity routinely escapes the confines of nuclear sites are well documented with one recent example to hit the headlines being the 6000 mile transportation of radioactive contamination by bluefin tuna from the polluted waters around the crippled Fukushima nuclear power plant to the coasts of North America. An even more recent case has however turned up very much closer to home – at Sellafield.
No stranger to unusual pathways for radioactivity - as 2000 Cumbrian feral pigeons and a host of seagulls will know to their cost - the site’s latest victims have been identified as a number of swallows which, gorging on the mosquitos that flit over the waters of Sellafield’s radioactive storage ponds, have taken up residence in Sellafield’s transport section.  As confirmed by the Environment Agency last week to a meeting of the Environmental Health Sub-Committee of the West Cumbria Sites Stakeholder Group, the birds’ droppings from around their roost/nesting sites have been found to be radioactively contaminated. Whilst neither the contamination levels nor the number of swallows involved was provided, the Environment Agency told the Committee that measures were being taken by Sellafield Ltd to tackle the mosquito problem.
CORE’s spokesman Martin Forwood commented; “These much-loved and now radioactive birds and their offspring will unwittingly be carrying a highly toxic message from Sellafield when they migrate back to Southern Africa at the end of the summer - a distance at least equivalent to that recently undertaken by the bluefin tuna.”
CORE press release, 6 June 2012

U.K.: Chernobyl restrictions sheep lifted after 26 years.
Twenty-six years after the April 26, 1986, explosion at Chernobyl reactor 4, restrictions remained on 334 farms in North Wales, and eight in Cumbria. But as of June 1, the Food Standards Agency (FSA) regulations on these farms were lifted. In the aftermath of the 1986 Chernobyl disaster, when radioactive rain swept the UK, farmers saw their livelihoods and even their families threatened. Some 9,700 farms and four million sheep were placed under restriction as radioactive cesium- 137 seeped into the upland soils of England, Scotland and Wales.

Before June 1, any livestock for breeding or sale had to be assessed with gamma monitors by officials from Defra or the Welsh government. Sheep found to exceed the legal radiation dose (1,000 Becquerel per kilo) were moved to the lowlands before sale, and had the farmers wanted to move their flock, they had to seek permission.

The FSA said the restrictions had been lifted because “the current controls are no longer proportionate to the very low risk”. No sheep in Cumbria have failed the monitoring criteria for several years, and less than 0.5 per cent of the 75,000 sheep monitored annually in North Wales fail.  But not everyone agrees with lifting the restrictions. An anonymous farmer with a flock of 1,000 ewes, was quoted in the Independent saying: “The feeling I have is that it should still be in place. The food should be kept safe.”
Independent (UK), 1 June 2012

Australia: at last: Kakadu Koongarra victory.
The Kakadu National Park in the Northern Territory is set to be expanded, with the inclusion of land previously earmarked land for uranium mining known as Koongarra. The Northern Land Council (NLC) has agreed for a 1,200 hectare parcel of land containing rich reserves of uranium to be incorporated in to the park. This looks like the final step in a long battle that Aboriginal traditional owner Jeffrey Lee has waged to protect his land from mining. The uranium-rich mining lease Koongarra was excised from Kakadu when the conservation area was established in the late 1970s. The lease is held by French company Areva, which wanted to mine the area for uranium. Two years ago, Mr Lee, the sole traditional owner of the land, called on the Federal Government to incorporate it in to Kakadu. The Government accepted the offer and referred the matter to the NLC. The NLC conducted consultations and its full council has agreed to endorse Mr Lee's wishes. The council and land trust will now move to enter an agreement with national parks to incorporate Koongarra into Kakadu. The Koongarra area includes the much-visited Nourlangie Rock (Burrunggui/Anbangbang) and is important in the Rainbow Serpent and Lightning Man stories.

In June 2011, the Koongarra site was added to the World Heritage List during a meeting of the Unesco World Heritage Committee in Paris. The French nuclear energy company Areva, had unsuccessfully asked the committee to remove Koongarra from its agenda.

It is not known if Areva will attempt to take any action over the decision to include Koongarra in the Kakadu national park
Nuclear Monitor, 1 July 2012 / ABC, 1 June 2012

Japan: Smartphone capable of measuring radiation.
On May 29, the Japanese company Softbank Mobile unveiled a smartphone capable of measuring radiation levels in a bid to respond to growing demand for dosimeters in the aftermath of the Fukushima nuclear disaster. Users can measure radiation levels by pressing and holding a button on the phone, and the device can be set to a constant measurement mode or plot readings on a map, according to Softbank.

The Pantone 5 107SH, manufactured by Sharp Corp., is equipped with a sensor that can measure between 0.05 and 9.99 microsieverts per hour of gamma ray in the atmosphere. The product is aimed at ''alleviating as much as possible the concerns of mothers with children,'' the mobile operator said in a statement, adding it will go on sale sometime in mid-July or later.
Mainichi (Japan), 29 May 2012

Public acceptance – what holds back the nuclear industry?
“Multiple structural barriers inside the nuclear industry tend to prevent it from producing a united pro-nuclear front to the general public. Efforts to change public opinion worldwide must deal with these real-world constraints.” In an article called: Public acceptance – what holds back the nuclear industry? Steve Kidd (deputy director-general of the World Nuclear Association) is asking if “we have probably begun to reach some limits in employing a fact-based strategy to improve public acceptance of nuclear. Huge efforts have been made to inform people about nuclear by freely providing a lot of good information. But the message doesn’t seem to hit home with many.” He is explaining why and how to overcome this in an article in the May issue of Nuclear Engineering International.

In the next episode he will look at the possibilities of increasing public acceptance in more detail. 
The article is available at: