China’s Nuclear Emergency Preparedness
The State Council Information Office of the People’s Republic of China
I. Current Situation of Nuclear Energy Development and Nuclear Emergency Preparedness
II. Guidelines and Policies for Nuclear Emergency Preparedness
III. All-round Promotion of Nuclear Emergency Preparedness
IV. Building and Maintenance of Nuclear Emergency Capabilities
V. Main Measures to Cope with Nuclear Accidents
VI. Nuclear Emergency Preparedness Exercises, Drills, Training and Public Communication
VII. Scientific and Technological Innovations in Nuclear Emergency Preparedness
VIII. International Cooperation and Exchanges in the Field of Nuclear Emergency Preparedness
The discovery of the atom and the subsequent development and utilization of nuclear energy gave a new impetus to the progress of humanity and greatly enhanced mankind’s ability to understand and shape the world. Yet, the development of nuclear energy has associated risks and challenges. For mankind to better utilize nuclear energy and achieve even greater progress, it is necessary to make innovations in nuclear technologies, ensure nuclear safety and do well in nuclear emergency preparedness. While nuclear safety constitutes a lifeline for the sustained and healthy development of nuclear energy, nuclear emergency preparedness serves as an important safeguard for its sustained and healthy development.
Nuclear emergency preparedness denotes the emergency actions taken to control, contain and mitigate a nuclear accident, and to minimize the consequences of such accidents, which are different from the normal order and working procedure. They are emergency response actions guided by the government, assisted by the relevant enterprises, coordinated among all the involved parties and implemented in a unified manner. Nuclear emergency preparedness is of paramount importance and bears on the overall situation, and is therefore of critical significance to the protection of the general public, the environment and social stability as well as safeguarding national security.
China has consistently given top priority to nuclear safety in its peaceful use of nuclear energy, and has persisted in an overall national security concept by advocating a rational, coordinated and balanced nuclear safety outlook. China has followed the approach of enhancing safety for the sake of development and promoting development by upholding safety in an unrelenting effort to bring the dual goals of development and safety in alignment with each other. In the past six decades or so, the Chinese people have been working with stamina and diligence in the pursuit of nuclear energy utilization, with splendid achievements. At the same time, the Chinese people have been sparing no effort to improve nuclear safety techniques, enforce rigorous nuclear safety supervision, strengthen nuclear emergency management and ensure that nuclear energy has always maintained a sound safety record.
Nuclear accidents know no national boundaries, and everything related to nuclear emergency management is too important to be taken lightly. Drawing on the lessons learned from the Three Mile Island, Chernobyl and Fukushima nuclear accidents, China has come to a profound understanding of the utmost importance of nuclear emergencies, and the need to continuously strengthen and improve nuclear emergency preparedness and responses with a view to constantly enhancing the nuclear safety safeguard level. China has made great strides in a full range of nuclear emergency-related activities, including the enactment of regulations, codes and standards, the establishment of institutional and regulatory regimes, the building-up of basic capabilities, the fostering of professional personnel, related exercises and drills, public communication, and international cooperation and exchanges. This has not only provided a robust safeguard for China’s own nuclear energy development, but also contributed actively to the promotion of a fair, open, collaborative and mutually beneficial international nuclear safety emergency framework and mankind’s sharing of nuclear energy development achievements.
I. Current Situation of Nuclear Energy Development and Nuclear Emergency Preparedness
It was in the mid-1950s that China embarked on its nuclear industry. Over the past more than six decades China has made constant endeavors in the peaceful use of nuclear energy by promoting the extensive application of nuclear technologies to such areas as industry, agriculture, medicine, the environment and energy. In particular, since the introduction of the reform and opening-up policies in late 1978 China’s nuclear energy sector has seen particularly rapid development.
The development of nuclear power constitutes an important component of China’s nuclear energy sector. Nuclear power is a clean, efficient and quality modern energy source. China has consistently adhered to the principle of placing equal emphasis on development and safety, and implemented the policy of developing nuclear power in a safe and efficient manner by adopting the most advanced technology and most stringent standards. In March 1985 construction started on the Qinshan Nuclear Power Station, the first of its kind in the mainland of China. As of the end of October 2015, in the mainland of China 27 nuclear generating units had been in operation, with a total installed capacity of 25.50 GWe, and another 25 nuclear generating units with a total installed capacity of 27.51 GWe had been under construction. China has already developed its large-sized advanced Pressurized Water Reactor (PWR) and High Temperature Gas-cooled Reactor (HTGR) technologies with proprietary intellectual property rights. Construction of the HPR1000 technology pilot project has already commenced. The China Experimental Fast Reactor (CEFR) has achieved full power operation over 72 hours, signifying that China has already mastered the core technology associated with fast reactors.
With the development of the nuclear energy sector, nuclear safety and nuclear emergency work have seen steady synchronous reinforcement. China’s nuclear facilities and nuclear activities have all along been in safe and stable state and, in particular, the safety level of nuclear power stations has witnessed constant improvement. None of the nuclear power generating units in China’s mainland has suffered events or accidents rated above Level 2 under the International Nuclear and Radiological Event Scale (INES), with the release of gaseous and liquid effluents kept far below the national regulatory limits. All of the under-construction nuclear power generating units have intact quality assurance, safety supervision and emergency preparedness systems.
China has always attached great importance to nuclear emergency work by taking a highly responsible attitude toward the safety of the people and society as a whole in enforcing nuclear emergency management. Arrangements have been made for nuclear emergency work in tandem with the decision taken to proceed with nuclear power development. In the wake of the Chernobyl accident, China made it clear that there would be no change in its nuclear power development policy, while stressing that a good job would be done on nuclear emergency preparedness – with the result that national nuclear emergency work got off the ground in 1986. In 1991, the National Nuclear Accident Emergency Committee was inaugurated and commissioned to make overall planning and coordinate nuclear accident emergency preparations and rescue work nationwide. In 1993, China promulgated the Regulations on Emergency Measures for Nuclear Accidents at Nuclear Power Plants to formalize nuclear emergency by regulatory means. In 1997, the first National Nuclear Emergency Plan (Scenario) was issued to lay out arrangements for nuclear emergency preparations and response in the form of a governmental decision. To cater to the needs of nuclear power development, multiple revisions have since been made to the original Plan and the latest version of National Nuclear Emergency Plan has been enacted. At present, China’s nuclear emergency management and preparations have seen comprehensive upgrades in terms of system, specialization, standards and scientific rigor.
Under China’s medium- and long-term development objectives, by 2020, the in-operation nuclear power installed capacity will reach 58 GWe in the mainland of China plus an additional 30 GWe approximately under construction. By 2030, endeavors will have been made to put into place science and technology R&D systems along with their associated industrial systems representing the global development trends of nuclear power, and to ensure that nuclear power technologies and equipment will take up a substantial share in the international market, thereby meeting the target of building a strong nuclear power country. Faced with the new situation, new challenges and new requirements, China is still confronted with shortfalls in nuclear emergency work in terms of technology, equipment, needed professionals, capacity and standards, which are the same problems encountered by other countries in developing nuclear energy. China will seek to reinforce national nuclear emergency management and raise its nuclear emergency work to a new level through idea innovation, scientific and technological innovation, and management innovation.