China to open discarded nuke plant for public viewing

China to open discarded nuke plant for public viewing 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.