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Thousands protest against proposed Sino-French nuclear reprocessing plant in Lianyungang, Jiangsu, China


Description

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.[1] 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. [2]

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[3], the companies agreed “to finalize the negotiations in the shortest possible timeframe.” [2] 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.[4]

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.[5]

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."[6] 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.”[2]

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.[7]

"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."[8] 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."[9]

"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. [10] 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.[2]

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.[6]

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.[11]

Basic Data

NameThousands protest against proposed Sino-French nuclear reprocessing plant in Lianyungang, Jiangsu, China
CountryChina
ProvinceJiangsu
SiteLianyungang City
Accuracy of LocationMEDIUM regional level

Source of Conflict

Type of Conflict (1st level)Nuclear
Type of Conflict (2nd level)Nuclear waste storage
Other
Specific CommoditiesElectricity
Uranium

Project Details and Actors

Project DetailsIt is just a proposed project:

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 modelled on Areva's plant in Melox, southern France. The aim is to build the reprocessing plant from 2020 to 2030.[4]
Level of Investment (in USD)1,500,000,000.00
Type of PopulationSemi-urban
Start Date06/08/2016
End Date10/08/2016
Company Names or State EnterprisesAreva (Areva) from France
China National Nuclear Corporation (CNNC) from China
Relevant government actors-Lianyungang Municipal Government

The Conflict and the Mobilization

Intensity of Conflict (at highest level)HIGH (widespread, mass mobilization, violence, arrests, etc...)
When did the mobilization beginPREVENTIVE resistance (precautionary phase)
Groups MobilizingNeighbours/citizens/communities
Forms of MobilizationMedia based activism/alternative media
Street protest/marches

Impacts

Environmental ImpactsPotential: Other Environmental impacts
Otherradiation
Health ImpactsPotential: Exposure to unknown or uncertain complex risks (radiation, etc…)

Outcome

Project StatusStopped
Pathways for conflict outcome / responseProject temporarily suspended
Do you consider this as a success?Not Sure
Why? Explain briefly.There is a nuclear power station in the nearby area already, and local residents showed widespread apprehension about the plant. The protest resulted in temporal suspension but it does not mean the nuclear fuel-reprocessing proposal is dead. Sites under consideration will have similar fears on the potential risks.

Sources and Materials

Links

Residents of Chinese city protest for third day over possible plans to build nuclear fuel reprocessing centre
http://www.scmp.com/print/news/china/policies-politics/article/2001467/residents-chinese-city-protest-third-day-over-possible

[1] Thousands in Lianyungang protest possible China-France nuclear project
www.hongkongfp.com/2016/08/08/thousands-lianyungang-protest-possible-china-france-nuclear-project/

[2] Thousands in Eastern Chinese City Protest Nuclear Waste Project
https://www.nytimes.com/2016/08/09/world/asia/china-nuclear-waste-protest-lianyungang.html

[3]李克强出席第十七次中国欧盟领导人会晤并顺访比利时、对法国进行正式访问并访问经济合作与发展组织总部
http://www.xinhuanet.com/world/cnleaders/lkqcf1506/index.htm

[4] Protests against proposed reprocessing plant in China
https://www.wiseinternational.org/nuclear-monitor/829/protests-against-proposed-reprocessing-plant-china

[6] Chinese City Backs Down on Proposed Nuclear Fuel Plant After Protests
https://www.nytimes.com/2016/08/11/world/asia/china-nuclear-fuel-lianyungang.html

[9] Jiangsu residents protest nuclear project
http://www.globaltimes.cn/content/999002.shtml

[11] China National Nuclear Corporation Longwan industrial park, Jiangmen, Guangdong, China
http://ejatlas.org/conflict/china-national-nuclear-corporation-cnncs-longwan-industrial-park-project-jiangmen-guangdong-china

[10] 连云港发布Official Weibo of Lianyungang
https://www.weibo.com/5303188384/E2PhptSAP

[7] Anti-nuclear Waste Protest Turns Violent in Lianyungang
http://www.sixthtone.com/news/1170/violent-crackdown-doesnt-deter-nuclear-waste-protest

Media Links

Protests in East China Over Proposed Sino-French Nuclear Plant
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-SBz05JcjaQ

Lianyungang Residents Defiant Over Possible Nuclear Facility Project
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_qJI3p4_Cec

Thousands of environmental activists and local residents gather in downtown Lian-yun-gan, Jiangsu province, protesting a planned nuclear waste plant project.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mvu2_uxRZ0Y

[5]"We Know About Fukushima": Thousands Rally In China Over Nuclear Project Fears
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CUM8GRDhjjc

Other Documents

For the next generation, refuse construction of the nuclear waste plant.
https://file.ejatlas.org/docs/For_the_next_generation.jpg

Thousands of residents gathered in front of a primary school near Suning Plaza to protest
https://file.ejatlas.org/docs/Thousands_protest.jpg

The Lianyungang Municipal People's Government has decided to suspend site selection and preliminary work on the nuclear recycling project.
https://file.ejatlas.org/docs/Moratoria.jpg

Meta Information

ContributorEnvJustice, ICTA-UAB
Last update13/11/2017

Images

 

For the next generation, refuse construction of the nuclear waste plant.

 

Thousands of residents gathered in front of a primary school near Suning Plaza to protest

 

The Lianyungang Municipal People's Government has decided to suspend site selection and preliminary work on the nuclear recycling project.