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article imageAfter protests, China shelves plan for $6 billion nuclear plant

By Ken Hanly     Jul 13, 2013 in Environment
Heshan - After protests by hundreds in the southern province of Guandong the Chinese government says it will respect public opinion and will no longer proceed with the China National Nuclear Corporation Longwan industrial park project.
A statement from Chinese authorities reads: “The people’s government of the City of Heshan has decided to respect public opinion and will not consider the China National Nuclear Corporation (CNNC’s) Longwan industrial park project.” The nuclear complex was to be a facility for processing uranium.
The project caused concern among local residents about pollution and nuclear radiation, but also in the neighbouring financial district of Hong Kong and also nearby Macau. Authorities in Macau had raised the issue with officials in Guandong.
On Friday July 12, hundreds of protesters wound through the streets of Jiangmen holding banners opposing the project. Slogans such as "Give us back our rural homes. We are against nuclear radiation" were common.
The protests began after a risk evaluation report that was released on July 4. There are ten days allowed for public comments afterward. Usually these reports are just a formality but this time the consultation period was extended and soon after the authorities announced the whole project had been scrapped.
A Beijing nuclear expert, who did not want to be named since he did not have permission to talk to the press, said he was surprised that the project had been cancelled. The expert noted: “Compared to a nuclear power plant, a uranium processing facility is way safer, as there is no fusion or reaction taking place in the production process.” Unsanctioned gatherings are banned in China but the police did not intervene or try to prevent the demonstration.
Lately there have been many reports in Chinese, and western media, about the damaging effects extensive pollution has had on quality of life during the rapid growth of Chinese industry. A number of recent metal and petrochemical plant developments have been postponed or relocated after public opposition. Perhaps the new government is showing that it is at least paying some attention to public concern about pollution. It is possible that concerns expressed by Macau and Hong Kong also influenced the decision.
More about Environmental policies in China, Nuclear power, Chinese protest nuclear power
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