(Yicai Global) Sept. 3 -- Commercial negotiations between China and France on cooperative reprocessing projects for spent nuclear fuel are almost concluded, and more progress is expected to come soon, Liu Hua, vice minister of China's Ministry of Ecology and Environment, announced today.
China will build some of the spent fuel reprocessing plants independently, while others are commercial reprocessing plants under construction in cooperation with France, Liu said when taking questions from reporters at a briefing to introduce the 'Nuclear Safety in China' white paper at the State Council Information Office today.
The two countries are also harmonizing their safety standards and stepping up regulatory cooperation, according to Liu.
China deems nuclear energy a key facet of its energy strategy and its atomic power generation capacity has improved rapidly, and this has brought an urgent need for the treatment of spent fuel and other nuclear waste. Spent fuel is that which has been consumed in a reactor. A reprocessing plant extracts unused uranium and plutonium from the consumed mass to derive new fuel elements for reuse.
The reprocessing plant is also a type of nuclear facility for which China has strict safety standards, Liu said, adding active communication with local governments and residents is necessary in the site selection for these facilities.
China will build five or more low- and medium-level radioactive waste disposal facilities in those provinces with atom power plants in the next phase, Liu stated. The country is establishing underground treatment laboratories and conducting research and development of high-level waste disposal, which are expected to see substantial progress soon. The goal is to place high-level waste away from humans for its safe and long-term storage, he continued.
Editor: Ben Armour