China to simulate nuclear crisis for national emergency drill next year
Officials plan to hold massive exercise in Guangdong owing to cluster of old nuclear plants there
A national nuclear disaster drill will be staged next year in Guangdong, home to some of the largest and oldest commercial reactors in China, Xinhua reports.
The 2015 Shendun (or “Heavenly Shield”) will be the first such drill since 2009.
Watch: CCTV news report of China's first nuclear emergency drill in 2009
Yao Bin, deputy director with the National Nuclear Emergency Response Office in Beijing, told the state news agency that the drill would be larger in scale and more sophisticated than other drills held in recent years.
Yao said the exercises would involve the central government, provincial authorities and nuclear power plant operators' participation.
“Developing nuclear power for more than five decades, our country has maintained a good nuclear safety record,” he was quoted by Xinhua as saying.
“To get prepared before the occurrence of disaster, our country have taken comprehensive measures to build up a national nuclear emergency response system with ‘healthy institutions, robust capability and combat readiness.’”
Huang Min, a nuclear safety coordinator with State Administration for Science, Technology and Industry for National Defence, said the drill would simulate an incident that occurred during the refuelling process, in which depleted uranium fuel rods were replaced with new ones.
Huang released no further details about the exercise as the overall plan was still being finalised.
But he confirmed that the site had been chosen, in Guangdong, because the province has “more nuclear reactors in operation and construction” than other areas.
China held the first national nuclear emergency drill five years ago at the Tianwan Nuclear Power Station in Lianyungang city, Jiangsu province, simulating a major reactor leak.
Military forces and civilian government agencies mobilised to contain the “leak” while residents practiced evacuating to safety zones.
China has 19 reactors in operation with 29 under construction – the highest number in the world.
Guangdong has three nuclear power plants at Daya Bay, Lingao and Yangjiang.
The Daya Bay plant, which started operating in 1994, is the oldest commercial nuclear power plant in the country.
To strengthen its nuclear response capability, the central government is assembling a 300-man specialised team that will be trained to enter the site of a nuclear disaster, control the damage and minimise the nuclear threat, according to Xinhua.
The budget for the team will be finalised this year and its members will be drawn from the military. The team will be trained at a special base and equipped with state-of-the-art equipment.