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Taishan nuclear plant safe, says deputy general manager Olivier Bard

Deputy general manager argues nuclear facility to operate from December is no threat to city

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 08 September, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 08 September, 2013, 3:50am
 

A manager of a power station labelled "the most dangerous nuclear power plant in the world" by Hong Kong engineer Albert Lai Kwong-tak sought yesterday to dismiss talk that it poses a threat to the city.

The nuclear power plant 130 kilometres away in Taishan, Guangdong, is due to start operating by December and will be the first in the world to use a new Franco-German pressurised-water reactor, known as EPR.

It has taken about four years to build, while two other plants using EPRs, in Finland and France, look as if they will take 10 years to build after a series of delays.

A fourth nuclear power station using the untried, third-generation technology is planned in Britain, where it has met with opposition from the public.

Hong Kong concern groups have asked whether the fact the Taishan plant was completed ahead of schedule is a sign the Chinese government is less stringent about nuclear safety than European governments.

"Taishan is smoother and faster because China kept on building nuclear plants for 20 years and France has to rebuild the skills. It stopped doing it for 15 years and workers have already retired," said Olivier Bard, deputy general manager of the Taishan Nuclear Power Joint Venture Company - a partnership between French electricity company EDF and state-owned China Guangdong Nuclear Power.

He added that the delays in France had nothing to do with safety issues.

Bard, in a talk organised by the Hong Kong Institute of Engineers yesterday, said the Chinese government was "demanding" on safety standards compared to European governments.

Dr Luk Bing-lam, chairman of the Hong Kong Nuclear Society, said the Chinese government had asked for about 100 technical adjustments, while the British project had had fewer than 80 adjustments.

Bard defended the safety of the fully digitised Taishan plant, which is said to consume less fuel and produce less radioactive waste.

Luk said the public might have an irrational fear of the nuclear plant, adding that any leak was unlikely to affect areas beyond 10 kilometres.

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