China issues nuclear safety blueprint, eyes $13 billion investment

SHANGHAI Tue Oct 16, 2012 11:18pm EDT

SHANGHAI (Reuters) - China will have to spend around 80 billion yuan ($12.74 billion) by 2015 to upgrade the security of its nuclear facilities and radioactive contamination control to international standards, a report issued by the Ministry of Environmental Protection said.

China, which has an ambitious plan to build as many as 100 reactors over the next two decades, imposed a ban on approving new nuclear power plants after Japan's nuclear crisis in March 2011 and ordered nationwide safety checks on its 41 plants.

The report, which laid out a road map for China's nuclear safety to reach international standards by 2020, suggested the government was moving closer to restarting the approval process for reactor expansion.

It evaluated safety in China's nuclear-power industry and recommended phasing out older nuclear reactors sooner, sharing and improving access to information, enhancing the research and development of nuclear safety and improving the handling of radioactive waste.

"The current [nuclear] safety situation isn't optimistic," the report said.

"China has multiple types of nuclear reactors, multiple technologies and multiple standards of safety, which makes them hard to manage," it said, adding that the operation and construction of nuclear reactors must improve.

The report did not specify when approvals for new plants would resume or mention capacity goals.

State media have said China, which currently has installed nuclear capacity of 12.57 gigawatts, will likely scale down its 2020 nuclear power generation capacity target to 60-70 gigawatts (GW) compared with earlier expectations of around 80 GW.

Its official nuclear capacity target for 2020 for now is 40 GW, less than 5 percent of its current total installed capacity, but enough to power Spain.

($1 = 6.2640 Chinese yuan)

(Reporting By Fayen Wong; Editing by Michael Perry and Paul Tait)

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