April 20, 2009 / 9:59 AM / 8 years ago

China nuclear safety chief warns of over-rapid growth

BEIJING (Reuters) - China will face safety issues and environmental hazards involving nuclear waste disposal if the nuclear power sector is expanded too fast, the country's nuclear safety chief said on Monday.

China, the world's second-largest user of fuel and electricity after the United States, plans to quadruple its nuclear power capacity in the next decade to about 40 gigawatts, fast-tracking from an embryonic stage in the last three decades when a total of less than 10 GW was built.

"At the current stage, if we are not fully aware of the sector's over-rapid expansions, it will threaten construction quality and operation safety of nuclear power plants," Li Ganjie, director of National Nuclear Safety Administration, told the International Ministerial Conference on Nuclear Energy.

It would also undermine the country's plan to use more domestic technology and pose problems in the disposal of nuclear waste, said Li, who is also a vice minister of Ministry of Environmental Protection.

China is adding 24 reactors totaling 25.4 gigawatts of installed capacity, including five plants set to kick off constructions this year, a top planning official said earlier on Friday.

Firms like Westinghouse, owned by Japan's Toshiba and France's Areva, are among the latest suppliers of nuclear technology.

Reporting by Jim Bai and Chen Aizhu; Editing by Nick Macfie

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