China to open discarded nuke plant for public viewing

"Chinese people will soon have access to a site previously closed to the public: a discarded nuclear plant built into the world's largest artificial cave in Southwest China's Chongqing municipality," state run China Daily said.

Part of the Chinese '816 Nuclear Military Plant', once a highly confidential military site, will open to the public as a tourist site in October, it quoted a local tourism officials as saying.
The plant, at the mountainous Baitao town of Fuling district, was built into the huge cave that covers 104,000 square meters apparently to generate enriched uranium for country's nuclear weapons programme.

Authorised by then-Chinese Premier Zhou Enlai, the plant was to be built into a nuclear raw material base.

Its construction started in 1966, but in 1984 the Central Military Commission called off the project due to a "comparatively peaceful world situation at that time," the report said.
The cave was designed to withstand thousands of tons of TNT explosives and 8-magnitude earthquakes. More than 60,000 soldiers participated in the construction of the plant and hundreds of them died during the construction.

According to the daily the plant will be opened to domestic tour groups. The announcement of opening of the hitherto secret site on the eve of the current nuclear summit came on the eve of the nuclear security summit being held in Washington.
The daily also said more powerful nuclear reactors were being built to reduce dependence on coal and China plans to increase its nuclear power capacity by as much as 800 percent by 2020 to reduce dependence on coal.

Currently, China has 11 nuclear reactors in operation, supplying 9.1 giga watts (gw) of power, or about one percent of the country's electricity.
Another 28 nuclear reactors have been approved, of which 20 are under construction, said Sun Youqi, vice-president of China National Nuclear Corp  China has established three bases for nuclear power, at Qinshan in Zhejiang province, Daya Bay in Guangdong province and Tianwan in Jiangsu province.

China plans to increase its nuclear power capacity to 70-80 gW by 2020, which will account for 8 percent of the country's total power capacity.

Previously, China had planned to increase its nuclear capacity to 40 gW by 2020, which would account for 4 percent of its total power capacity.
"As a country which relies on coal for about 70 per cent of its energy consumption, China has accelerated the development of its nuclear power industry.

This is in accordance with the country's move to build an environmentally-friendly economy," explained Lin Boqiang, a professor at Xiamen University.
Coal-fired power plants are a major source of China's carbon emissions. The use of more nuclear energy can help the country achieve its goal of reducing carbon dependence as a percentage of its gross domestic product by 40 to 45 per cent by 2020, Lin said.
All of the nuclear reactors now under construction are in China's more economically developed coastal areas.In addition, many inland provinces are also planning to develop nuclear projects.

The first batch of inland nuclear power plants will include the Taohuajiang nuclear project in Hunan province, the Xianning project in Hubei province and the Pengze project in Jiangxi province.

At least one of these three projects is expected to begin construction this year. Six of the nuclear reactors now under construction will be among the first in the world to use third-generation technology.

Four of them will use AP1000 technology from US-based Westinghouse and two will use European Pressurized Reactor technology from Areva, a French company.
Located in Zhejiang, Shandong and Guangdong provinces, the third generation plants will have higher safety standards and longer life expectancy.
Construction of the company's four third-generation reactors is going smoothly, State Nuclear Power Technology Corp (SNPTC Chairman Wang Binghua told China Daily.
The first reactor, which is located at Sanmen in Zhejiang province, is expected to start generation in 2013.

Indigenous development is also underway and China Huaneng Group recently inaugurated a joint venture to build and operate a demonstration project, which uses a technology called CAP1400. The project is located in Weihai, Shandong province.
The CAP1400 technology is based on Westinghouse's AP1000 technology. Construction of the project is expected to start in April 2013, with power generation scheduled for 2017.

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