China AP1000 nuclear plant on track after delay-Xinhua

BEIJING Sun Jan 15, 2012 2:13am EST

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BEIJING Jan 15 (Reuters) - China's first third-generation nuclear power plant will come online as scheduled in 2013, a nuclear power executive said, despite delays caused by redesigning after a devastating tsumani in Japan in March.

China's third-generation pressurized water reactors are the first in the world to use AP1000 technology developed by Westinghouse. Building has been underway since 2009.

Construction slowed following the tsunami, to allow for design adjustments and "stricter construction requirement for endurance concerns", the Xinhua news agency said, citing remarks by Wang Binghua, board chairman of the State Nuclear Power Technology Corporation (SNPTC) on Saturday.

The tsunami badly damaged reactors in Japan and led to questions over the safety of China's ambitious nuclear plans. China plans to start building new capacity almost equal to Japan's entire nuclear power sector by 2015, to reduce its dependence on coal.

"Both the SNPTC and Westinghouse have agreed that the new reactors are able to survive the same shock experienced by the Japanese plant," Wang said.

The two companies are still mulling over further efforts to ensure nuclear safety, he added.

Wang said an optimized construction schedule would allow the No.1 unit of the Sanmen nuclear power plant, in east China's Zhejiang province to begin operation in 2013.

The Xinhua article did not mention a second Westinghouse-designed plant, under construction in Haiyang, Shandong province.

Chinese designers are developing a variation of the AP1000 technologies, trumpeted as the "hone-grown" CAP1000, as well as an updated CAP1400.

Initial designs for the CAP1400 were completed by the end of last year, and will be examined by government experts in May this year, Xinhua cited Wang as saying.

The U.S. certifed the AP1000 design in December, allowing for the construction of the first new reactors there since the Three Mile Island accident in 1979.

(Reporting By Lucy Hornby; Editing by Sanjeev Miglani)

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