Remote Gobi desert site marked for nuclear dump

PUBLISHED : Friday, 25 April, 2003, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 25 April, 2003, 12:00am

A site in northwestern Gansu has been marked for the mainland's first high-level radioactive waste dump, according to a Chinese nuclear scientist.

Wang Ju, of the Beijing Research Institute of Geology, said it was in the remote Beishan region of the Gobi desert.

While the mainland already has several regional low-level nuclear waste dump sites, it does not have a permanent facility for high-level waste, which can remain harmful to human health for up to 100,000 years.

Dr Wang told the official Global Times that the area's low population and rainfall, good railway links and granite deposits, critical to prevent radioactive leeching, made it an ideal site.

He did not name the specific area, but international atomic industry groups have speculated the mostly likely site is either Quinhongquan or Jiujin, in Beishan's southern section.

The report said the site would be officially chosen in 2005 after more scientific and technical investigations. Construction would start in 2030 and the facility would be fully operational by 2040.

The need for such a site stems from the nation's push to expand its nuclear power programme.

Planners hope to increase nuclear power production from the present 1 per cent to 3 per cent of the national total energy output by 2005.