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Chinese Safety Plan for Atomic Projects Delayed, Caixin Says

China’s cabinet is yet to approve a plan by the Ministry of Environmental Protection to tighten safety for nuclear plants, a step needed to help expand the country’s atomic power generation program, Caixin magazine said.

New nuclear projects and those that have started preliminary construction will remain suspended, according to a report on Caixin’s website, citing Zhang Guobao, former head of the National Energy Administration. Zhang, who spoke at a conference in Beijing yesterday, didn’t say when the plan was discussed or when it would be considered again.

Zeng Yachuan, spokesman of the National Energy Administration, didn’t answer two calls to his office today, seeking comment on the report.

China suspended new nuclear projects after last year’s earthquake and tsunami in Japan crippled the Fukushima Dai-Ichi plant and prompted a global review of atomic energy plants. The State Council said approvals would be withheld until existing projects and those under construction are inspected and a stricter safety regime is in place.

The policy has hurt China’s major nuclear power equipment makers, including Shanghai Electric Group Co., Dongfang Electric Corp. and Harbin Electric Co., which have had their long-term contracts frozen.

The State Council will hold a second round of talks on nuclear safety and the mid- and long-term atomic power development plans, Xinhua News Agency said yesterday, citing Wang Binghua, chairman of the State Nuclear Power Technology Corp. Xinhua didn’t provide details.

Key Conditions

The new nuclear power safety regulation is ready and a draft would be submitted to the State Council after minor adjustments, the environmental protection ministry said in a statement on its website Dec. 12. The regulation, prepared by the China Nuclear Safety Administration, a division of the ministry, outlines rules and goals for nuclear safety by 2020.

Passage of the new safety regulations and the atomic power development plans are the two key conditions to restart China’s nuclear projects, Li Yongjiang, vice president of the China Nuclear Energy Association, said in January.

China, which started its first commercial nuclear plant in 1994, is building at least 27 reactors and has 50 more planned, according to the association.

The country plans to install 70 gigawatts of nuclear power by the end of the decade, the National Energy Administration said last year. The target may be scaled back to between 60 gigawatts and 70 gigawatts, Li told Bloomberg in October.

China will limit the number of reactors to be built on the coast, the State Oceanic Administration said on April 7 last year. The country, constructing more reactors than any other nation, has at least 14 atomic units in operation, according to data from the World Nuclear Association.

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