BEIJING (Reuters) - A new nuclear safety law in China is ready to be passed, state media said on Monday, adding that the legislation will help prevent and deal with accidents and promote development of the industry.
Safety in China’s nuclear industry has become increasingly important as it seeks to increase exports of its nuclear technologies. China has already signed agreements to build reactors in Argentina, Romania, Egypt and Kenya.
It plans to build more than 60 nuclear plants at home in the coming decade and will see total domestic capacity rise to 58 gigawatts by the end of 2020.
The new law is needed to better ensure nuclear safety, prevent and deal with nuclear accidents, protect people’s health and the environment and promote the industry’s development, the official Xinhua news agency said, citing parliament’s standing committee.
The law is designed to oversee and manage risks associated with building nuclear facilities, taking them out of commission and how to deal with nuclear waste, the news agency added, without giving details.
Lawmakers have suggested the time is right to approve the law, Xinhua said, meaning it is likely to pass on Friday when parliament ends its latest legislative session.
The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) released a report on China’s nuclear safety last year saying China’s nuclear safety record had been strong but needed “further work” in areas such as waste management and handling ageing plants.
China’s environment ministry said in February it had fined a manufacturer of components used in nuclear power plants for safety breaches at two facilities.
Separately, Xinhua said the IAEA on Monday had begun its first nuclear security assessment of China, at the request of the China Atomic Energy Authority.
“During the 10-day assessment, the agency will review China’s nuclear security system, laws and government supervision, and visit nuclear plants in Zhejiang province,” Xinhua said, citing the Chinese nuclear agency.
The IAEA will carry out reviews of nuclear security systems and suggest improvements, China Atomic Energy Authority vice chairman Wang Yiren told Xinhua.
Reporting by Ben Blanchard; Editing by Robert Birsel