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Fuel-loading at the Sanmen nuclear energy project on the coast -- to be the world's first Westinghouse-designed AP1000 nuclear reactor -- has again been delayed, this time due to "safety concerns."

Nuclear Energy

Safety Problems Again Delay China’s Sanmen Westinghouse AP1000 Nuclear Energy Project

Fuel-loading at the Sanmen nuclear energy project on the coast — to be the world’s first Westinghouse-designed AP1000 nuclear reactor — has again been delayed, this time due to “safety concerns.”

Nuclear energy proponents often cite the seeming ongoing support for nuclear energy in China and Russia when arguing that the western world is being left behind by its move away from the electricity generation modality. What they don’t tell you, though, is that the projects in question are in general running way behind schedule, and are repeatedly unnerving regulators due to the presence of unresolved “safety concerns.”

With that in mind, the China Daily has now reported that fuel-loading at the Sanmen nuclear energy project on the coast — to be the world’s first Westinghouse-designed AP1000 nuclear reactor — has again been delayed. This time due to the aforementioned “safety concerns.”

Delays have been a common occurrence on the project, as the original plan was for the project to go online in 2014.

Before moving on, it should be stated bluntly here that regulators in China haven’t approved any new nuclear energy projects in over two years. Clearly, the government there is beginning to become skeptical of the technology, and the timelines presented by project creators.

Reuters provides more:

“Officials with the US-based Westinghouse expected fuel loading to start last year, and it would have been followed by around 6 months of performance tests before the reactor could go into full operation in 2018. But fuel loading has now been suspended as China tries to ensure the project meets the highest possible safety standards, the China Daily said, citing a spokesman with the China National Nuclear Corporation (CNNC).

“Westinghouse, owned by Japan’s Toshiba, signed an agreement in 2007 to build 4 AP1000 reactor units at 2 sites in China, hoping the projects would serve as a shop window for the firm. But the company filed for bankruptcy last March, hit by billions of dollars of cost overruns at 4 nuclear reactors under construction in the United States.

“China was originally seen as the lifeline for the global nuclear sector, with the country keen to approve dozens of new reactor projects to ease its dependence on polluting coal-fired electricity…But the pace of planned nuclear construction in the country was scaled back in 2011 in the wake of the Fukushima disaster in Japan.”

Elsewhere, the situation regarding nuclear energy project delays and cost-overruns is similar, with the technology seemingly not capable of supporting the grandiose claims often made by those hawking it to governments around the world.


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Written By

James Ayre's background is predominantly in geopolitics and history, but he has an obsessive interest in pretty much everything. After an early life spent in the Imperial Free City of Dortmund, James followed the river Ruhr to Cofbuokheim, where he attended the University of Astnide. And where he also briefly considered entering the coal mining business. He currently writes for a living, on a broad variety of subjects, ranging from science, to politics, to military history, to renewable energy.

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