China to open discarded nuke plant for public viewing

Last Updated: Tuesday, April 13, 2010 - 14:22

Beijing: As world leaders met in
Washington to discuss nuclear security, China today said it
plans to open up its discarded military nuclear plant located
in a cave for public and unveiled plans to boost atomic power
capacity by 800 per cent to reduce dependence on coal.

"Chinese people will soon have access to a site
previously closed to the public: a discarded nuclear plant
built into the world`s largest artificial cave in Southwest
China`s Chongqing municipality," state run China Daily said.

Part of the Chinese `816 Nuclear Military Plant`,
once a highly confidential military site, will open to the
public as a tourist site in October, it quoted a local tourism
officials as saying.

The plant, at the mountainous Baitao town of Fuling
district, was built into the huge cave that covers 104,000
square meters apparently to generate enriched uranium for
country`s nuclear weapons programme.

Authorised by then-Chinese Premier Zhou Enlai, the
plant was to be built into a nuclear raw material base.

Its construction started in 1966, but in 1984 the
Central Military Commission called off the project due to a
"comparatively peaceful world situation at that time," the
report said.

The cave was designed to withstand thousands of tons
of TNT explosives and 8-magnitude earthquakes. More than
60,000 soldiers participated in the construction of the plant
and hundreds of them died during the construction.

According to the daily the plant will be opened to
domestic tour groups. The announcement of opening of the
hitherto secret site on the eve of the current nuclear summit
came on the eve of the nuclear security summit being held in
Washington.

The daily also said more powerful nuclear reactors
were being built to reduce dependence on coal and China plans
to increase its nuclear power capacity by as much as 800
percent by 2020 to reduce dependence on coal.

Currently, China has 11 nuclear reactors in
operation, supplying 9.1 giga watts (gw) of power, or about
one percent of the country`s electricity.

Another 28 nuclear reactors have been approved, of
which 20 are under construction, said Sun Youqi,
vice-president of China National Nuclear Corp China has
established three bases for nuclear power, at Qinshan in
Zhejiang province, Daya Bay in Guangdong province and Tianwan
in Jiangsu province.

China plans to increase its nuclear power capacity
to 70-80 gW by 2020, which will account for 8 percent of the
country`s total power capacity.

PTI



First Published: Tuesday, April 13, 2010 - 14:22

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