China's environment watchdog Friday denied local media reports
that it oppose the building of a controversial nuclear plant
project in east China's Shandong Province.
"We are not holding back the project but waiting to assess its
environmental impact," said Wu Xiaoqing, deputy director of the
State Environmental Protection Administration (SEPA), Friday.
The SEPA issued a statement on its website Thursday saying that
it has not received any application to assess the project's
environmental impact. However, it said that if it did receive one,
it would check the project carefully.
The Rushan nuclear plant, set to be built at the coastal Weihai
city, triggered protests from local residents who claim it is too
near to the beach, which is regarded as one of the most beautiful
beaches in China.
On the same day, the China National Nuclear Corporation (CNNC),
the major stakeholder in the project, announced that the project is
still at a very early stage and CNNC is carrying out research into
its environmental impact.
The company has not picked up the procedure to apply for the
SEPA assessment, the CNNC said in the press release.
The construction of the plant cannot begin until it passes
assessment by the SEPA, according to relevant rules.
"The assessment on nuclear plants is much tighter than other
ordinary projects. Even though the SEPA passes it, it has to wait
for the nod from the State Council," Wu said.
The SEPA said in its Thursday's statement that the CNNC should
hold a hearing with local residents and the SEPA welcomes the
public to voice their opinions through proper channels.
"I believe that the CNNC and local government are fully aware of
the process," Wu said.
A senior official with the project, Wang Yongxiao, said it was
soliciting public opinion about the plant among local
"If the authoritative evaluation report shows the location is
not appropriate, the project will be cancelled," said Wang.
"The nuclear power plant is not that horrible and the residents
must have some understanding of the project."
Residents said the project officials hastened to solicit public
opinion in order to precede a SEPA draft regulation scheduled to be
finished around December 15. It may possibly stipulate that the
newly-planned nuclear power plant should not be too close to the
"Obviously they have chosen the winter to solicit opinions when
the number of residents is at a minimum," a local resident
On Nov. 1, the CNNC signed an investment agreement with three
other companies on the project. It has a 51 percent stake in the
Residents have voiced concern over the planned nuclear power
plant since 2005 when the Shandong Provincial Government unveiled
"It's very ridiculous for the government to have decided to
build a nuclear power plant in such a densely-populated area with
such beautiful seascape," said netizen "Monica" on the on-line
forum, which attracts more than 1,000 local visitors regularly.
According to the initiator of the forum, a local resident and
law professor surnamed Wu, the Rushan Nuclear Power Plant is "only
five kilometers from Yintan and zero kilometers from the sea".
What has made local residents even more worried is that there
are three planned nuclear power plants along the province's
(Xinhua News Agency December 8, 2007)