| Zhang Lijun, Vice Minister of Environmental Protection, attends a press conference of the Fourth Session of the 11th National People's Congress (NPC) focusing on strenthening environmental protection in Beijing, capital of China, March 12, 2011. (Xinhua/Yang Zongyou)|
BEIJING, March 12 (Xinhua) -- China will not change its plan for developing nuclear power projects but will learn a lesson after a massive earthquake in Japan resulted in a radioactive leakage, Vice Minister of Environmental Protection Zhang Lijun said Saturday.
"China has 13 sets of nuclear power installations in operation and tests have shown all of them are safe," Zhang told a press conference on the sidelines of the national parliamentary session in Beijing.
China is "keeping a close eye" on the development of the earthquake's impact on Japan's nuclear facilities, he said.
"Some lessons we learn from Japan will be considered in the making of China's nuclear power plans," he said. "But China will not change its determination and plan for developing nuclear power."
From 2011 to 2015, China will launch nuclear energy projects with a combined generation capacity of 40 million kw, according to the government's draft 12th Five-Year Plan published one week ago.
In addition to boosting the construction of nuclear power plants in the coastal areas, new plants will be planned in central regions.
Zhang Lijun said China had been monitoring in coastal cities the possible influence of nuclear leaks from Japan and the tests showed China had not been affected so far.
A radioactive substances leak was detected Saturday at Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant operated by Tokyo Electric Power Co., after Japan's largest-ever earthquake struck northeastern Japan on Friday, according to Japanese nuclear safety agency.
At Fukushima's No. 1 plant, the amount of radiation reached 1,000 times the regular level in the operating room, the agency said and the No. 2 plant is set to release pressure in containers housing nuclear reactors that could result in the leak of radioactive substances.
Also on Saturday, the Japanese government issued an evacuation order for residents in the vicinity of Fukushima No. 2 nuclear plant.
The quake and tsunami cut the power supply to some of the 11 reactors in Japanese nuclear power plants and diesel generators designed to provide back-up electricity to the cooling system.
The cooling system, usually water but sometimes a gas or a liquid metal, is circulated past the reactor core to absorb the heat it generates.
The failure to operate the cooling system could lead to the overheating of the core, then a molten mass could melt through the reactor container, releasing radioactivity into the containment building surrounding the container and possibly causing explosion.
The reactors in the Japanese nuclear power plants, which have been affected by the massive quake, are Generation II reactors and have to rely on back-up electricity to power its cooling system in times of emergency, according to Lu Qizhou, general manager of the China Power Investment Corporation.
But the AP1000 nuclear power reactors, currently under construction in China's coastal areas and set to be promoted in its vast hinterland, are Generation III reactors and would be exempted from such a problem, as they have "a non-powered " cooling system, said Lu.
The cooling system consists of a huge tank containing thousands of tonnes of water above the reactors, and will be activated by the force of gravity in times of emergency, he said.
"It's just like the flush toilet, no power is needed," he said.
The general manager also called for enhanced cooperation among nuclear powered plants.
"When the back-up electricity system fails to function in one nuclear power plant, other plants should offer immediate help," he said.
Special Report: NPC, CPPCC Annual Sessions 2011