Friday, July 12, 2013

China Cancels Construction of $6 Billion Nuclear Fuel Plant in Guandong Amid Strong Citizen Protest

When it comes to actually stopping a nuclear project, Chinese people seem far more effective than the Japanese.

From (7/13/2013; emphasis is mine):

China cancels construction of $6 bn nuclear plant

Beijing: China has cancelled the construction of a USD six billion nuclear procession plant in Guangdong province apparently due to public concerns over its safety.

The planned nuclear fuel processing project in south China's Guangdong Province has been cancelled, state-run Xinhua news agency reported today.

The planned Longwan Industrial Park project under China National Nuclear Corporation, located in Zhishan Township in Heshan City, was cancelled, the report said, quoting officials of municipal government of Jiangmen, which administers Heshan and company sources.

The planned industrial park, with a designed capacity of 1,000 tonnes of uranium in 2020, was to feature facilities for uranium conversion, enrichment and manufacturing of nuclear fuel equipment, involving a total investment of 37 billion yuan (USD 6 billion), the report said.

The brief report did not mention why the project was cancelled. This is the first nuclear project cancelled by China, which is embarking on a massive expansion of nuclear power projects.

Earlier reports said local people had expressed concerns over the safety of the processing plant handling such large quantities of uranium.

Public protests which are rare in China are now becoming common specially when it comes to preservation of the environment.

Chinese officials also halted the construction of a copper alloy plant in Sichuan province following violent protests by local residents.

The cancellation of Guangdong plant also comes in the backdrop of slowing down of the economy which was expected to contract to 7.5 per cent this year from last year's 7.8 per cent, amid reports of a liquidity crunch.

(Full article at the link)

Locals voicing opposition in a demonstration were reported by Xinhua (7/13/2013; emphasis is mine), though I couldn't find the article about the cancellation:

Hundreds of people gathered in a city in south China's Guangdong Province on Friday to protest a planned industrial park processing nuclear fuel.

Protesters "took a walk" through Jiangmen, holding banners and wearing T-shirts with slogans calling against the planned construction of a nuclear facility in Zhishan Township in Heshan City, which is administered by Jiangmen.

According to information published by the government of Jiangmen, the 229-hectare industrial park 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).

Industry insiders told Xinhua that the project is the first industrial park planned in southeast China for nuclear fuel production. It will supply to nuclear power plants in Guangdong and neighboring Fujian Province, with a designed capacity of 1,000 tonnes of uranium in 2020.

"We don't need such projects to boost the economy," said a resident surnamed Liu in the crowd of protestors. Liu said he knew little about the nuclear industry but was upset that the planned site was only 30 km away from the city.

Wu Yuxiong, mayor of Heshan, said on Friday that the public consultation period for the project, details of which were published on July 4, would be extended. Another official said the construction of the park was "a long way off being started."

The city will invite members of the public to tour other nuclear facilities to better understand their production, beef up publicity of relevant scientific knowledge and invite experts from home and abroad into the evaluation of the project, Wu said.

Photo from South China Morning Post (7/13/2013). The placard says "I need life, don't need nuke":

According to South China Morning Post, the residents remain highly skeptical, and think it's just the city's tactics to placate the residents for a while (emphasis is mine):

The municipal government in Jiangmen, Guangdong announced on Saturday that it would drop a controversial plan to build a uranium processing project in the city. But local residents worried it was just city official's delay tactic to stop them from staging more protests.

About 500 people lingered at the city's landmark Donghu Square on Saturday morning after vice mayor Wu Guojie made the announcement at 9 am. Protesters were scheduled to walk from Donghu Sqaure to the municipal government building.

"We don't believe the project will be dropped premenently, because our goverent has no credibility at all," one participater said.

"The government officials are so corrupt. The accept lots of bribes that could support them to migrant to overseas. That's why they never seriously take care of our living safty," said another resident.

Some parents brought their children to Saturday's rally.

"I want to use the protest to teach my son and our next generation that nuclear projects wil negatively affact their life and the future development of the Pearl River Delta," a man who brought his 7-year-son to the rally said.

The protest was finally cancelled as local government mobolised more than100 police officers and plainclothes policemen who urged protesters to leave.


Maju said...

Congratulations to Cantonese for this victory.

You know why China yields and Japan doesn't: because Beijing truly fears an uprising while Tokyo does not. Protests can really get ugly in China, where there have been some very intense class struggles, especially in Greater Guangzhou and the authoritarian regime does not really know well when it may be overstepping its power, being fearful of popular anger. Nothing like that has ever happened in Japan, a country which has never experienced a social revolution AFAIK.

Anonymous said...

Well, I am being told that there are *lots* of protests in China, although they get little coverage, so this one is not such a special event.
Maju, the last revolution in Japan dates to the beginning of the Meiji era, when the feudal lords have been overthrown by the burgeois. Allons enfants.
By the way, in this case the number of Chinese protesters is in the hundreds, orders of magnitude fewer than the Noda era nuclear protests...


Anonymous said...

Beppe, that means hundreds of thousands of Japanese are far less effective than hundreds of Chinese in stopping a nuke facility. So what happened when supposed hundreds of thousands who peacefully walked around in the center of Tokyo, shouting (or made to shout) "no restart"? Nothing.

Not such a special event? Stopping, for now, the construction of the first nuclear fuel production plant in southern China is not a special event? Then what is, in your opinion?

netudiant said...

The key word here is 'for now'.
The Chinese leadership imho is even more impervious to criticism than the Japanese, but they are quite willing to defuse opposition by tactical halts.
The local residents seem to have their leadership's number pretty much exactly.

Anonymous said...

@12:16 what I was trying to say is that protests are not a special event in China.

In the specific, if a protest managed to stop for good the construction of such a large nuclear facility, which I guess the Chinese need badly if they want to contain the cost of running their npps, it would be huge news.

Protests in Japan have been on the news for long time and I guess they helped keeping high the awareness of the nuclear issue. Then, how come the desire of a large majority of the Japanese to eventually abandon nuclear generation translates into so many seats to the LDP I have no idea :(


Anonymous said...

P.S. news that a few hundred protesters have been able to even just delay a multibillion nuclear project is also good news, of course.

Kind of OT, has anyone seen on TV former prime minister Noda whining to Abe that he had been tricked into dissolving the parliament in exchange for a reform of the electoral law that never came by? He seemed to be on the verge of crying. Pathetic.

Anonymous said...

A man might treat his fiancee better than he will treat her when she becomes a wife. Fearing that people might someday want a democratic government, the Chinese government may be more motivated than democratic governments to follow the wishes of its citizens.

Post a Comment