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Nuclear fuel plant canceled

2013-07-15 09:44 Global Times Web Editor: Sun Tian

Local residents in Jiangmen, Guangdong Province, protested for a second time against the construction of a nuclear fuel processing plant Sunday, following the government's announcement that the project had been canceled.

"Protestors gathered near the city government till noon, venting their concerns in an orderly manner," Lin Guang, a local resident, told the Global Times, adding that no major conflicts were seen as police officers broke up the demonstrators into small groups.

An unnamed police officer with the Jiangmen public security bureau told the Global Times that authorities would bring those organizing illegal gatherings to justice while urging the public to support the government's work.

The Heshan Longwan Industrial Park project, at the center of the protest, is located in Heshan, some 30 kilometers away from the downtown area. Designed for an annual capacity of processing 1,000 tons of uranium in 2020, it would involve a total investment of 37 billion yuan ($6 billion) by China National Nuclear Corporation (CNNC).

The city government said in a statement on Sunday that the project had been canceled, adding that officials in Heshan would stop seeking approval for the project. This came after Friday's protest in which some 1,000 residents expressed their concerns about the environmental impact of the project.

Also on Friday, Wu Yuxiong, mayor of Heshan, said the project's risk evaluation report, posted online, would be up for 10 more days.

However, doubts remain about the project's future. "Protestors, mostly the elderly and those from nearby townships, didn't read the statement in time," Liu Wenjie, a local resident, told the Global Times.

Li Jike, deputy chief of the CNNC, said the nuclear fuel processing plant would not have the same irradiation as a nuclear power plant, and that with stringent management, the radiation would not spread beyond 300 meters from the plant, even in case of a leak.

Chi Xuefeng, a nuclear expert, said the great number of nuclear power stations in the area were in need of more fuel, adding that the geological conditions in Heshan are stable.

"It was a hasty decision made when facing heavy public pressure," said Yun Jie, director of the administration research department at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences. He added that as a huge potential source of income, how the losses incurred by the cancelation of the project will be accounted for must be considered.

"A proper way is to establish a third-party assessment mechanism, made up of experts and related parties," said Yun.

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