China Builds World's Most Powerful Nuclear Reactor; Regulators "Overwhelmed"

Tyler Durden's picture

We are sure this will end well. Just as China took the 'if we build it (on free credit), they will come' growth model to extremes in real estate; it appears their ambitions in nuclear energy production are just as grandiose. However, just as they lost control of the real estate market, Bloomberg reports China is moving quickly to become the first country to operate the world’s most powerful atomic reactor even as France’s nuclear regulator says communication and cooperation on safety measures with its Chinese counterparts are lacking. France has a lot riding on a smooth roll out of China’s European Pressurized Reactors (EPRs) as it is home to Areva, which developed the next-gen reactor, and utility EdF, which oversees the project. French regulators, speaking in parliament, warned, "the Chinese safety authorities lack means. They are overwhelmed."

 

 

Not what you want to hear as the nation embarks on the biggest nuclear energy facility creation ever, "if too many nuclear power projects are started too quickly, it could jeopardize the healthy, long-term development of nuclear power..." and the Chinese (just ask the Japanese).

 

As Bloomberg reports, China is moving quickly to become the first country to operate the world’s most powerful atomic reactor even as France’s nuclear regulator says communication and cooperation on safety measures with its Chinese counterparts are lacking.

Chinese builders are entering the final construction stages for two state-of-the-art European Pressurized Reactors. Each will produce about twice as much electricity as the average reactor worldwide.

The French are in charge... kinda...

France has a lot riding on a smooth roll out of China’s EPRs. The country is home to Areva SA (AREVA), which developed the next-generation reactor, and utility Electricite de France SA, which oversees the project. The two companies, controlled by the French state, need a safe, trouble-free debut in China to ensure a future for their biggest new product in a generation. And French authorities have not hidden their concerns.

And are not happy...

“Unfortunately, collaboration isn’t at a level we would wish it to be” with China, Jamet said. “One of the explanations for the difficulties in our relations is that the Chinese safety authorities lack means. They are overwhelmed.”

 

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“the state of conservation” of large components like pumps and steam generators at Taishan “was not at an adequate level” and was “far” from the standards of the two other EPR plants,

China is rushing...

Some 28 reactors of various models are currently under construction in China. That’s more building than any other nation on the planet, and the country hasn’t reported a serious nuclear accident in the 22 years it has operated nuclear plants for commercial use.

 

“If the current momentum of development continues, if too many nuclear power projects are started too quickly, it could jeopardize the healthy, long-term development of nuclear power,” Fan Bi, a deputy director at the State Council Research Office, wrote in an article for Outlook Magazine, published by the official Xinhua news agency, two months before the Fukushima disaster.

 

China General, the country’s biggest atomic operator is forging ahead with EDF. It will begin critical tests on the most advanced of the 1,650-megawatt Taishan EPRs before start-up in 2015

But the Chinese nuclear regulator is a "total black box"

The Chinese regulator’s website contains relatively little information about safety issues. The most recent post on Taishan is a 2009 report on the start of cement work at the reactor referring to “problems left over from early-stage construction.” It said all current work was up to standards, without elaborating. In total just nine posts on the website mention Taishan, and many are blank apart from the title.

Critics of China’s nuclear safety regime, including Albert Lai, chairman of The Professional Commons, a Hong Kong think tank, says that lack of information risks eroding confidence in safety controls in what’s set to be a 14-fold increase of atomic capacity by 2030.

“The workings of China’s atomic safety authority are a ‘‘total black box,’’ said Lai. ‘‘China has no transparency whatsoever."

And even the Chinese are nervous...

And in a rare public comment about safety concerns, China’s own State Council Research Office three years ago warned that the development of the country’s power plants may be accelerating too quickly.

We are sure this will all end well...