China publishes white paper on nuclear safety

China published its first comprehensive white paper on nuclear safety on Tuesday, detailing policies and measures to improve nuclear safety, regulations and international cooperation.

The white paper, published by the State Council Information Office, features six chapters, including China’s nuclear safety strategy, regulation and supervision mechanisms, public education and international cooperation.

Liu Hua, director of the National Nuclear Safety Administration, said China has placed strong emphasis on nuclear safety since building its first nuclear power plant in 1985, and has maintained a good track record of nuclear safety.

As of June, there are 47 nuclear power facilities in operation on the Chinese mainland, ranking third in the world. China is also building 11 new facilities, the most in the world, the white paper said.

Liu said the total operation hours of all Chinese nuclear facilities have surpassed 300 years, and there have been no incidents or accidents at or above level 2 of the International Nuclear and Radiological Event Scale (INES).
The lowest level is at zero with no safety significance and the highest level is at seven.

“Even level 1 incidents in China are extremely rare,” Liu said. INES defines level 1 generally consists of incidents that breached operating limits at a nuclear facility, while level 7 is characterized with external release of radioactive material that have widespread health and environmental effects, such as Chernobyl in 1986 and Fukushima in 2011.

According to recent rankings by the World Association of Nuclear Operators, more than 80 percent of safety indicators from Chinese nuclear power facilities have surpassed the world’s average, and more than 70 percent of these indicators have reached world-class level, according to the white paper.

“China has always placed nuclear safety as the paramount priority,” Liu said, adding China upholds a “rational, coordinated and balanced” nuclear safety strategy with strong emphasis on governing nuclear-related matters according to law.