GUANGZHOU, July 14 (Xinhua) -- A planned nuclear fuel processing project in south China's Guangdong Province has been canceled following local residents' opposition, local authorities said Saturday.
The planned Longwan Industrial Park project, located in Zhishan Township in the city of Heshan, has been canceled, according to the municipal government of Jiangmen, which administers Heshan, and sources from the China National Nuclear Corporation, builder of the project.
Many local residents expressed opposition to the project after it was made public by the Heshan government on July 4, said Wu Yuxiong, mayor of Heshan.
"The Heshan government respects the public's opinion and will not apply for approval for the project," Wu said.
The public's opposition was mainly due to safety worries and environmental concerns.
The project has met the same fate as paraxylene(PX) producing projects. Since 2007, the PX projects planned in Xiamen, Dalian, and Kunming were shut down because of public fear for possible environmental pollution.
"We don't need such projects to boost the economy," said a resident surnamed Liu. Liu said he knew little about the nuclear industry but was upset that the planned site was only 30 km away from the city.
The planned industrial park, with a designed capacity of 1,000 tonnes of uranium in 2020, will feature facilities for uranium conversion, enrichment and manufacturing of nuclear fuel equipment, involving a total investment of 37 billion yuan (6 bln U.S. dollars).
As the first nuclear fuel processing plant to be built in China's southeastern coastal area, it planned to supply nuclear power plants of Dayawan, Taishan and Yangjiang with the uranium it extracted.
Most of China's nuclear fuel processing plants are currently based in west China, while China's nuclear power plants are mainly based in the eastern coastal region.
The cost and inefficiency of long-distance transportation, increasing demand for nuclear fuel in eastern area, and the need for safer and more reliable supply routes prompted the idea to build the Longwan Industrial Park project, industry insiders said.
Experts say they have taken multiple aspects into consideration when choosing Heshan as plant site.
There is a relatively greater number of nuclear power plants near Heshan, which therefore has more demand for nuclear fuel, said Chi Xuefeng, a nuclear expert.
Chi added that the geological conditions in Heshan are also stable, which means losses in possible earthquakes will be light.
The nuclear fuel will not produce much radiation and the manufacturing process will not create pollution, said Zhao Yamin, a researcher with the Ministry of Environmental Protection.
Even in times of earthquake, malfunctions and emergencies can be solved in the plant, said Zhao.
"It's time for the nuclear power industry, which the public knew very little in the past, to learn to communicate with residents," said an industry insider who declined to be named. He added that the both the government and the companies should pay full respect to public concern for environment.
China is working on forming a complete industrial nuclear power system. It has the greatest nuclear power capacity under construction of any country in the world.
China has 17 nuclear power-generating units in operation with a total installed capacity of 14.76 million kilowatts, as well as 28 units currently under construction.