French nuclear fuel group Areva agreed in 2012 to cooperate with the state-run China National Nuclear Corp (CNNC) to build a reprocessing facility in China, without stating the location. Locals say that Lianyungang, a port city in Jiangsu province, is a prime candidate because a large new nuclear power station is being built by CNNC nearby. Lianyungang hosts the Tianwan nuclear plant, which has two power reactors and two more under construction. A 2010 survey of 1,616 local residents showed widespread apprehension about the Russian-built Tianwan plant: 83.5% of respondents said they "worried about improper handling of nuclear waste" at the plant. 
The companies have not reported settling on a site, nor have they revealed many other details about the proposed plant. But when China’s premier, Li Keqiang, visited France in June 2015, the companies agreed “to finalize the negotiations in the shortest possible timeframe.”  Areva and the Chinese government completed negotiations over technical aspects of the reprocessing project soon after the event and commercial negotiations continued later on. The 100 billion yuan (US$15b; €13.3b) plant is to be built by China National Nuclear Corp., based on Areva technology. China wants a plant to process 800 tonnes of spent fuel per year, as well as a MOX fuel fabrication plant modeled on Areva's plant in Melox, southern France. The aim is to build the reprocessing plant from 2020 to 2030.
The prospect of a nuclear reprocessing plant in addition to the nuclear power station is clearly a bridge too far for many locals. Thousands participated in protests beginning on Saturday, August 6, 2016, disregarding warnings from the local government and police that they were breaking the law. Protests extended over several days and at times involved confrontations with police.
According to the August 10 New York Times: "The biggest protest in Lianyungang took place on Saturday [August 6], when many thousands of people, including families with children, marched through the downtown area. Despite warnings from the government, protests continued on a smaller scale this week, as residents defied ranks of riot officers with shields, according to news reports and video that people shared through social media." Meanwhile, citizens used social media platforms to denounce the proposed reprocessing plant while government censors did their best to remove critical comments.
On Sina.com Weibo, a popular Chinese site that works like Twitter, messages have sprung up using a picture of a face in a heavy protective mask holding up a nuclear radiation sign with a red X across it. “The people of Lianyungang don’t want radiation,” the picture says. Residents also used WeChat, a popular Chinese messaging service, to share video footage showing downtown Lianyungang at night crowded with hundreds of people, many of them middle-aged, walking down a broad street in waves and chanting loudly, “Oppose nuclear waste, defend our home” and “for the next generation, refuse construction of the nuclear waste plant.”
On Monday night [August 8], thousands of residents gathered in front of a primary school near Suning Plaza and yelled "Protest, protest!" at SWAT police wearing heavy riot gear and carrying riot shields. Some residents were throwing water bottles to them; about a dozen people who threw stones were detained by police on Monday. Protesters said that since Friday, their numbers had grown significantly until SWAT teams moved in on Sunday night to disperse the crowds.
"We don't want this project," said a local citizen. "We worry about whether there will be a leak and whether the technology is good enough to protect people's health." Another local citizen said: "It is very important to choose a safe location to deal with nuclear waste since it is radioactive. Lianyungang is located in a seismically active area, and there is already a nuclear waste plant here. It is unsafe to see another nuclear project coming and besieging us."
"The Lianyungang Municipal People's Government has decided to suspend site selection and preliminary work on the nuclear recycling project," the local government said in a notice posted through its official Sina Weibo account without further details.  In a report published on Monday by the official local newspaper, the Lianyungang Daily, the local government said “no final decision had been made” on the location of the plant.
The announcement does not mean the nuclear fuel-reprocessing proposal is dead. Lianyungang is one of six sites under consideration for the reprocessing plant, and national authorities are concerned that unrest could spread to the other sites under consideration.
Local governments are increasingly giving ground in the face of growing public opposition to chemical plants, waste incinerators and other potential sources of pollution ‒ and now proposed nuclear projects are becoming increasingly contentious. High-profile government-driven publicity campaigns designed to promote nuclear power have not stopped Chinese citizens from taking action against nuclear projects in the past. In 2013, residents in the city of Heshan in Guangdong province took to the streets to protest against a uranium processing plant scheduled to be built in the city. The project was eventually cancelled.