Vietnam urges China to share information on its nuclear power plants

By Viet Anh   October 14, 2016 | 02:00 am GMT+7
Vietnam urges China to share information on its nuclear power plants
China's nuclear power development plan. Photo by world-nuclear.org

Energy experts have warned over 'possible disasters'.

Vietnam has asked China to provide updates on its three new nuclear power plants near Vietnam’s border following safety concerns raised by experts.

Le Hai Binh, Vietnam’s Foreign Ministry spokesman, said at a press briefing on Thursday that Vietnam has asked China to build a system to provide regular updates on the three plants that went online last month in the provinces of Guangxi and Guangdong and on Hainan Island.

The plant in Guangxi is only 50 kilometers from the Vietnamese border and less than 500 kilometers from Hanoi.

The plants have put Vietnam on edge with the country still seeking funding to develop a radioactivity surveillance system in the north.

Vietnam and China are both members of the Convention on Nuclear Safety, under which a country is entitled to demand another to provide status updates on nuclear plants.

Experts from the Vietnam Atomic Energy Institute have urged the government to devise measures to deal with “possible disasters”.

International experts have also expressed similar concerns.

Paul Dorfman, a researcher from the Energy Institute at University College London, said that all nuclear plants carry risks of accidents.

“It is unclear how safe Chinese reactors are, and how well they are regulated. So it seems clear that the Vietnamese people are at risk,” he told VnExpress.

Edwin Lyman, a senior security scientist at the U.S.-based Union of Concerned Scientists, said a legal framework for nuclear safety and security in China has lagged behind its pace of nuclear construction. “It is in Vietnam’s interest to ensure that China implements strict regulatory measures at its nuclear plants.”

China plans to expand its nuclear power network to 170 plants with a combined capacity of 195,000 megawatts by 2050, according to the International Atomic Energy Agency.

David Lochbaum, director of the Nuclear Safety Project at the U.S. union, said that if the exercises could be coordinated between China and its neighbors, it would help assure that people are protected in case a nuclear accident happens.

Vietnam plans to build its first nuclear power plants in the central province of Ninh Thuan with technical assistance from Russia and Japan.

But following the 2011 nuclear disaster in Japan, the Vietnamese government ordered relevant agencies to thoroughly review safety measures and last year announced that it would delay work on the first nuclear plant until 2020.

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