A top Chinese official says China has faith in the safety of its nuclear power technology and won't scrap plans to expand its domestic industry because of Japan's crisis.
China has drawn on the best nuclear energy standards and practices among industrial nations, Tian Jiashu, the Environmental Protection Ministry's nuclear safety director, said in an interview posted Saturday on the website of the official People's Daily newspaper. Tian said the country has learned from accidents at Three Mile Island in the United States and Chernobyl in the former Soviet Union.
China suspended approvals for new projects this month pending a safety review but will not scrap expansion plans, he said.
"We're not going to stop eating for fear of choking," Tian said.
Few details of China's safety review have been announced, although state broadcaster CCTV said earlier in the week that technicians have been assessing safeguards at the coastal Daya Bay nuclear plant just north of Hong Kong, including sea walls aimed at protecting the facility from a tsunami.
Over the past 20 years, China has constructed seven nuclear power plants boasting 13 reactors without recording a single major safety crisis, Tian said.
Plans call for the construction of an additional 26 nuclear power stations with 53 additional reactors. Twelve of those projects have already been green-lighted, while 14 others have passed initial approval. China hopes nuclear power will provide 6 percent of its energy supply by 2020, contributing to an overall target of deriving 15 percent of supply from non-fossil fuel sources.
Workers have been struggling to contain radiation leaks at a nuclear power plant in northeastern Japan since the complex was damaged in a massive earthquake and tsunami on March 11.