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.”




“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...

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Carpenter1's picture

China seems to be in an awful hurry to do alot of things these days. 

mjcOH1's picture

"When the music stops, in terms of liquidity, things will be complicated. But as long as the music is playing, you've got to get up and dance." - Chuck Prince

sushi's picture

China could always engage TEPCO as an outside consultant.

TEPCO has lots of experience with these isses.


BurningFuld's picture

The EPR has a design maximum core damage frequency of 6.1 × 10?7 per plant per year.  See somebody wrote that so we are all safe.

(The superscipt is -7 not ?7) Either that or my computer knows something I don't.

Fish Gone Bad's picture

Nuclear power is a disfunctional family.  On the good days, everyone gets cheap power.  On the really bad days they wake up and kill everyone. 

7.62x54r's picture

It all depends on who designs the plant.

The French reactors are all pretty much bullet proof.

Apparently the Chinese hired Mr. Burns.

Joebloinvestor's picture

The French would not admit to an accident if they had one.

Any seismic activity and their record will go to hell.

macholatte's picture



Did Harry Reid cut a deal so the Chinese will be storing the nuclear waste at the Bundy Ranch in Nevada?


Headbanger's picture

I think we should cut a deal to shove it all up his ass for safe keeping!

eclectic syncretist's picture

Seismic activity from fracking?


Matt's picture

Three Gorges Dam, the amount of water is so massive it presses down the plate and causes earthquakes.

7.62x54r's picture

I've looked fairly closely at their standard cookie cutter design.The whole plant is a seriously armored self-contained dome shaped unit.

Unless some event flips the damned thing over, it isn't going to breach.

Flakmeister's picture

-7.... It is a probability...

detached.amusement's picture

thankfully, many probabilities are exceedingly small ;)

Cognitive Dissonance's picture

Always simmering in the background among Chinese leadership is the spector of 1.351 billion angry Chinese "citizens". Plenty of incentive to move things along regardless of the actual state of readiness. Plus the air pollution in the cities ain't getting better on its own.

Buck Johnson's picture

Remember that is the issue the 1.3 billion chinese in the background.  Remember all the revolutions china had?  They know that if they don't placate them, then they will be the ones the billion go after.

hobopants's picture

Well a couple of meltdowns would certainly help to curtail that population problem.

swmnguy's picture

The Chinese realize that having piles of US dollar instruments is like cornering the market in egg salad and popsicles on a hot day...when you don't have any ice.

7.62x54r's picture

Yup, which explains the spending potlach.

Get the damned FRNs into something tangible, even if it is in the form of empty houses and big fucking reactors.

stoneworker's picture

I think they know that the dollar is going to collapse(they probably even know exactly when) so they are spending and borrowing as much as they can, so when the dollar collapses they can compensate the loss in value of their US treasuries by at least having built some skyscrapers and other infrastructure through debt that will be greatly lowered through inflation. 

Stuck on Zero's picture

Powerful is not a moniker you want on a nuclear power plant.  The danger of an accident goes up linearly with the power.  Small, modular 100 MW reactors are way, way safer than 1000 MW rectors. At the same time it is crazy to even contemplate building any reactor other than an inherently safe HTGR pebble bed reactor. 


Reptil's picture

eehm smaller containment equals less safety
the whole reason they started building mega plants, is because they couldn't build a small containment that actually worked.
ask the germans what happened to their pebblebed reactor.
another issue is that small modulars are hard to keep an eye on (by the NRC, or the public)
and the industry just can't be trusted.
sell your stock dude, it ain't happening.

Stuck on Zero's picture

Au contraire Reptil. The Navy operates a large number of 100 MW plants with a remarkable safety record.  Modularity and standardization means better automatic control systems and detecton of potential flaws.  Small cores do not melt easily and pebble beds mean that the reactor doesn't need to be torn apart two years to refuel.  Gas reactors will become a reality when governments require fail-safe systems. Let us hope that smarter heads will prevail.


mrpxsytin's picture

China prudently realises that all forms of money (fiat, gold, seashells etc.) are ultimately backed by energy. If China can pull this off then they win this round of the game. It will pave the way for reserve currency status. 

jonytk's picture

bitcoin my friend ;) powered by energy, they cannot stand to burn so much carbon, they will get intoxicated.

MountainsRoam's picture

If man survives to the end of this century it will be a miracle haha unless we spread our seed into space, and destroy the glaxay also..

Cognitive Dissonance's picture

"Keep that Twinkie between your legs and space will be just fine." - Visiting space alien.

Aussiekiwi's picture

I'm doing all I can but I'm only one man!

old naughty's picture

Rush to build for last few decades houses for no men;

Rush to build for next few dacades nuclear generations

for more no men; And then, rush to build stargates ?

COSMOS's picture

At least the Chinese are building.  All our money goes into knocking things down around the world.  And its usually buildings on top of women and children.  And it dont matter if they are white, red, brown, or black.  Just ask those dead kids and their moms in East Ukraine who got their apts shelled courtesy of the guys who will now sign the sell your soul trade agreement with the west.  Western style oligarch democracy getting rammed down people's throats.

old naughty's picture

While I believe NO ONE should control over or cut short other's life...And surly that would be "balanced" out in the "middle" layer...

But I also believe no one should simply build and build and build whatever on this lower layer of ours simply to sustain a make-believe system (of control, mind you); that too would be "balanced" out, imho.

Hence, rush to build, for build's sake, is equivalent to change, for change sake...

Having said all that, we;re about to face major changes, no?


What the hell we come to Earth for?

mrpxsytin's picture

They're not building to sustain the make-believe system. They're building a new make-believe system and rendering the American model obsolete. 

RafterManFMJ's picture

True dat!

I've been busy spreading my seed on Uranus.

Aussiekiwi's picture

just never gets could also have added, If you like your radiation you can keep your radiation.

TheFourthStooge-ing's picture

...and of course this old classic:

Bang Dae Glo

Reaper's picture

In France, the village idiot rose to the top. In China, the party would not allow that, they hope. We all are sure that the best and brightest are in charge at all levels of government in China and France. We sleep well because we trust.

falak pema's picture

its part of the global disease; in the US you have Bernanke and Yellen, both Summa Cum laude from ivy league. 

laomei's picture

Of course, a bunch of idiots are going to cry about Japan as if it somehow matters.  Remember, Japan was burning a shitty US design which was never safe, never really updated and shoud have been taken down years ago.  This is entirely different and China has an amazing track record when it comes to nuclear.  This is a deal done with CNNC, and speaking as someone with high-level inside contacts within that organization, safety is not something ignored.  These are projects which have been planned for the better part of a decade.  What you are seeing here is US-based propaganda aimed at China in an attempt to lighten the gravity of the situation and take away from the fact that while the US continues to spiral deeper into shit, China continues to move forward.


The power plants going up in China are top of the line and China is busy signing deals to sell domesticated designs around the world.  Furthermore, there is serious research towards fusion and thorium for further stage development.  Just because there are a certain number of planned reactors does not mean that the reactor types are set in stone, that's free to change as technology allows.

valley chick's picture

You mean it will last longer than their toasters?

Aussiekiwi's picture

Toasters come with a guarantee.

MontgomeryScott's picture


If it BREAKS, we guarantee that we'll build you another one.

Never One Roach's picture

The Pacific sealife can't take much more abuse.

COSMOS's picture

You dont have to buy it lol.  Get yourself a German brand toaster online. Besides the Chinese have to keep people employed, if that toaster lasted forever what would that mean to their assembly lines lol.  As far as breaking look up USA nuclear accidents.

ChiangMai's picture

The toasters are for the brain-dead USA Walmart shoppers who think they're getting a deal.

China gets to sell something to these morons every six months rather than only once every ten years.

China's military equipment, incidentally, also isn't designed and manufactured for USA Walmart shoppers.

Exponere Mendaces's picture

China is going to eat the US and the UK for lunch.

What most "Made In China" idiots don't comment on is its the direction of those particular CEO's that say "Give me x product at n cost". The Chinese just comply with the orders given. So, if you're pissed at something made in china breaking, blame the cheapskate fuckbags that decided to cheap out on the production line.

Hell, you have things that can be made well in China, like all of fucking Apple's iDevices - but they pay the cost to do that, instead of cheapskating their way out of it.

In reference to the reactors, are we forgetting that this nation built the largest fucking dam in the world, and it is currently operating without falling apart? That is a huge achievement for something that can be seen from ORBIT.

But no, its all "FUCK YEAH 'MERICA" around here, because the nation is full of idiots.


laomei's picture

Someone fucking gets it it seems.  Exposure to Chinese products is controlled by those who import and sell them.  Sure, it's "made in china garbage", because that's what you're paying for... well, not you, the importers.  Companies who make nothing and increasingly design nothing, they just put in an order and slap their sticker on it, demand absurdly low prices, and then jack up the price 10-fold to sell to idiots.  Idiots who then cry about it being crap... but the middlemen soak up that profit and pat themselves on the backs for being ever so smart.  Buy your shit direct and suddenly, those problems vanish, and it's FAR cheaper.  I bought an espresso machine which in the US has been cheapened and tends to fall apart after about a year.  US price: $500.  My price: $80. FoB price for 100+ units ~$40.  Difference is, mine works great and has quality parts the factory reserves for orders which are not zero-margin.  


Here's the future: China will get the confidence to make some beachheads into the US markets, selling more and more directly to consumers, cutting out the middlemen and then you'll see those "great american brands" crash and die as they cannot compete.