The People's Republic of China should improve its system for ensuring the safety of its rapidly expanding nuclear power program, experts from the Chinese Academy of Sciences say. Despite having 40% of the world's proposed nuclear power plants, the country lacks an independent regulatory agency and sufficient staff to keep pace with nuclear power development, they describe in a viewpoint article in ACS's journal Environmental Science & Technology.
Qiang Wang and colleagues note that the Chinese government announced that it would suspend approvals for nuclear power plant development across the country in the wake of devastating failures at Japan's Fukushima nuclear facility. "This decision, uncharacteristic of the Chinese government usually racing ahead with ambitious infrastructure projects, was right and timely," they state. "However, the open question remains how the Chinese government is going to improve nuclear energy safety. China has almost become the nuclear industry's living laboratory for new reactor designs and the learning that comes from actual construction."
But they also note that China's nuclear administrative systems are fragmented among multiple agencies and lack a fully independent safety and regulatory agency. China also lags behind the United States, France, and Japan when it comes to staff and budget to oversee the nation's operational reactors, they said.
The authors acknowledge funding from the National Natural Science Foundation of China and the Foundation of Director of XJB, Chinese Academy of Sciences