Japan’s Atomic Energy Agency (AEA) has reported that the China Experimental Fast Reactor (CEFR) stopped generating electricity in October, following an accident. After suffering the consequences of it’s own nuclear disaster at Fukushima last year, the report has raised Japanese concerns over the prospect of radiation leaking from the CEFR, located at the China Institute of Atomic Energy near Beijing. The incident has been denied by Chinese sources.
From The Telegraph:
The same report highlighted worrying safety lapses at the China Institute of Atomic Energy (CIAE) outside Beijing, which houses the CEFR. Safety standards were said to be “very low”, with a lack of devices to measure potential radiation leaks, while the main control room of the reactor was equipped with beds which workers rested on when they were on duty.
Wan Gang, the director of the CIAE, denied there had been an accident or any cover-up.
“CEFR hasn’t been operating since July last year so reports that an accident occurred in the autumn are extremely inconsistent with the facts,” he told Chinese media.
Mr Wan also refuted the allegations of poor safety, saying five teams were monitoring the reactor around the clock and that there were multiple measures in place to prevent radiation leaks. He denied there were beds in the main control room for staff to sleep on.
It’s unknown whether Wan Gang also added the phrase, “Move along now, nothing to see here” at any point, though it is quite clear to anyone who has spent time in China that beds in the main control room aren’t necessary for staff who need to sleep.
China carried out safety inspections on all reactors – both complete and incomplete – in the wake of the Fukushima incident. However, information released by Wikileaks just months later raised alarm over their safety. According to leaked diplomatic cables, the US embassy in Beijing believes China has vastly increased the risk of a nuclear accident by opting for cheap technology that will be 100 years out of date by the time the reactors reach their lifespans.
Typical of the country’s giddy speed of development, China is currently in the process of building more reactors by 2020 than the rest of the world put together. We’re not worried though, since similar goals were also applied towards high-speed rail back in 2010, and that all turned out fine. And by “fine” we mean not fine at all.