Review and Outlook of China’s Nuclear Emergency
  • Updated:2016-01-27
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January 27, 2016
China Atomic Energy Authority (CAEA)

In promoting economic and social development, China will stick to the concepts of innovation, coordination, green, openness and shared development viewing nuclear energy development as an important strategic choice. Since it embarked on nuclear energy development, China has attached great importance to nuclear emergency work and has maintained a sound nuclear safety record contributing significantly to the cause of peaceful use of nuclear energy by mankind. As long as China continues to develop nuclear energy, it will never relent in its stride to ensure adequate nuclear emergency preparedness. 

I. Major Progress  of China’s Nuclear Emergency Work

The Communist Party of China (CPC) and the Chinese government along with various levels of nuclear emergency organizations have attached great importance to nuclear emergency work all along. As a result of efforts made over the past years, especially since the “12th Five Year-Plan”, China’s nuclear emergency work has made good progress on multiple fronts. Firstly, nuclear emergency concept, guidelines and policies have seen significant innovations. The overall national security outlook and China’s nuclear safety outlook have been put forward to place equal emphasis on development and security, and develop nuclear energy on the premise of safety; underline the need to develop nuclear energy according to the highest international standard and through the use of the most advanced technology; emphasize the development of nuclear energy in a way that is safe, efficient, sustainable and healthy; highlight the importance of versatile compatibility and constant vigilance to ensuring adequate nuclear emergency preparedness and so forth. Secondly, nuclear emergency legal and regulatory systems have been steadily perfected. A complete nuclear emergency work legal framework has been put into place featuring a full set of mutually complementary national laws, administrative regulations, regulatory codes, standards and specifications, and technical guidelines. Thirdly, nuclear emergency infrastructure construction has been further reinforced. A number of nuclear emergency facilities have been built up to form nationwide networks of nuclear and radiation monitoring, nuclear emergency medical rescue, earthquake prediction, marine radiation environmental monitoring, and nuclear emergency meteorological observation. Fourthly, systemic nuclear emergency rescue capabilities are in place. The Chinese government has laid out the plan to set up a national nuclear emergency rescue team comprising 320 personnel. 8 state-level nuclear emergency specialized technical support centers, 25 rescue task forces and 3 training bases have been established. 3 nuclear power corporations have commenced the building of their respective nuclear emergency rescue bases and rapid rescue teams. Fifthly, unexpected events have been successfully handled. Effective steps were taken to mitigate impact on the public by the Fukushima accident in Japan to contribute to social stability. Nuclear emergency work has been organized and implemented to address significant earthquakes etc. Sixthly, a series of important exercises have been successfully organized. The state-level nuclear emergency joint exercise codenamed “Shendun-2015” was successfully conducted with nation-wide nuclear emergency exercises/drills implemented and offsite/onsite joint exercises prior to initial fuel loading for 6 provinces (autonomous regions and municipalities) performed. Seventhly, nuclear emergency technical research and development has seen new breakthroughs. Significant breakthroughs have been accomplished on emergency medical rescue and radiation-induced disease healing, nuclear accident consequence assessment and decision support system, nuclear emergency environmental/meteorological monitoring and forecasting technique etc. Eighthly, nuclear emergency public communication and promotion have seen continuous upgrades. National Nuclear Emergency Publicity Week activities have been organized on multiple occasions to bring the press corps from the key media to visit Chinese nuclear power utilities, and to conduct science popularization, seminars, public exhibitions and public communication focused on nuclear emergency safety in various formats to help boost nuclear energy development and assist with the “One Belt One Road” initiative. Ninthly, nuclear emergency communications and exchanges have been continued expansion. Active steps have been taken to fulfill obligations under international conventions on nuclear emergency. On 5 separate occasions, official delegations were sent to attend senior level international meetings. On 5 other occasions, international and regional seminars and training workshops were organized with international organizations and national organizations of relevant countries. And China has joined the international nuclear emergency response and rescue network. Tenthly, the involved provincial and nuclear installation operators have made major improvements in their overall nuclear emergency overall capabilities. In response to the IAEA’s Nuclear Safety Action Plan and in accordance with the associated new concepts and standards, relevant provinces (autonomous regions and municipalities) and various nuclear installation operators have strengthened their respective levels of nuclear emergency preparedness and response in terms of capacity building, systemic improvement and upgrades such that the foundation for emergency work has been further reinforced with overall capabilities strengthened.

II. Key Points of Way Forward for China’s Nuclear Emergency Work during the “13th Five Year Plan”

In view of the new situation and new tasks associated with nuclear energy development, and to meet the new expectations and new requirements on the part of the general public as regards nuclear emergency work, we shall aim at meeting the overall target of safeguarding nuclear energy security, public safety and national security and place emphasis on the following three aspects in terms of China’s nuclear emergency work during the “13th Five-Year Plan”.

A. Overall requirements. To proceed from strict compliance with the important thoughts on the overall national security outlook and China’s nuclear safety outlook advanced by President Xi Jinping, ensure vigorous implementation of the national nuclear emergency work guideline policies; and, in line with the work requirements to further refine the national nuclear emergency system, further upgrade national nuclear emergency capability and further strengthen national nuclear emergency exercise; ensure the continued reinforcement of the building of nuclear emergency laws and regulations, national emergency planning, and  organization command, emergency rescue, technical support systems to steadily upgrade the nuclear emergency preparedness and response capabilities with a view to pushing forward the safe and efficient development of nuclear energy, and providing staunch safeguards for realizing environmental safety, national security and public safety.

B. Overall principle. In accordance with the national emergency work guideline requirements, the following principles will be rigidly abided in moving ahead with nuclear emergency work to fit in with the needs of the new situation on nuclear energy development. Firstly, to ensure overall planning and systematic implementation. To steadfastly strengthen the top-down design, unified coordination, holistic pushing forward and systematic upgrades of the various work activities associated with the national emergency plan. Secondly, to ensure constant vigilance and solidify the foundation.  Place a high premium on nuclear emergency preparedness and response from both an ideological and action perspective, and lay a solid foundation for nuclear emergency work from both software and hardware angles. Thirdly, to ensure versatile compatibility and innovative development. Make full use of existing organization, capability and technical support conditions to move ahead with nuclear emergency work and push forward innovation drive. Fourthly, to stay true and practical with a focus on practice. Nuclear emergency work should focus on matching the needs of nuclear energy development and, to meet emergency work needs, efforts must be made to pinpoint capacity building and exercises/drills with the objective of strengthening the actual capabilities to cope with and handle unexpected nuclear events and accidents at all levels.

C. Overall target. By the end of the “13th Five-Year Plan”, we shall build up a national nuclear emergency system commensurate with China’s nuclear energy development to support, enable and safeguard China’s transformation from a nuclear energy ‘Big Country’ to a nuclear energy ‘Strong Country’. Unsparing efforts will be made to achieve the following six major objectives: Firstly, to perfect nuclear emergency legal and code systems. Push forward the ongoing effort to promulgate the relevant important laws and regulations, and unveil the urgently-needed standards and specifications so as to build up a legal and regulatory system fully commensurate with China’s nuclear energy development. Secondly, to perfect nuclear emergency planning system. In keeping with the overall requirements of the National Nuclear Emergency Plan, efforts will be exerted to push the relevant provinces (autonomous regions and municipalities) and nuclear installation operators to fine-tune their respective emergency plans in an effort to continuously perfect the national emergency planning system. Thirdly, to perfect nuclear emergency organization command system. Strengthen the national guidance, develop standards and specifications, ensure overall coordination in pushing forward the construction of the various levels of nuclear emergency organization command system, and ensure renewed reinforcement of the national nuclear emergency organization command system building. Fourthly, to perfect nuclear emergency rescue system. Strengthen national nuclear emergency rescue capability building, and reinforce the standardized construction of nuclear emergency forces at the provincial (autonomous regional and municipal) and nuclear installation operator levels. Fifthly, to perfect nuclear emergency technical support system. In keeping with the task requirements of nuclear emergency preparedness and response, we shall make continuing efforts to strengthen nuclear emergency support system along with the associated basic R&D capabilities. Sixthly, ability to cope with unexpected nuclear events to reach a new level.  Nuclear emergency administrative and specialized technical personnel will witness overall improvements in their abilities to handle unexpected nuclear events (accidents).

III. Key Tasks Facing China’s Nuclear Emergency Work in the Immediate Future

In accordance with the overall arrangements of China’s national nuclear emergency preparedness and response, 11 tasks are to be fulfilled for the immediate future. Firstly, to strengthen the construction of nuclear emergency legal and code systems. The key in this regard is to push ahead with the legislative process related to the Atomic Energy Law and the Nuclear Safety Law, push forward the promulgation of the Nuclear Accident Emergency Management Regulations, and draw up technical specifications or standards applicable to 9 categories of response actions defined under the National Nuclear Emergency Plan. Secondly, to strengthen nuclear emergency plan system building. In line with the overall requirements of the National Nuclear Emergency Plan, efforts will be made to study and unveil Measures for the Administration of Nuclear Emergency Plan as basis for perfecting various levels of emergency planning. Dynamic management of emergency plans at all levels will be implemented with reviews thereof instituted at appropriate points in time. Thirdly, to strengthen nuclear emergency organization command system building. The national nuclear emergency response (command) center should be viewed as the central platform in optimizing the nuclear emergency dedicated network topological structure so as to achieve the interconnection across the board between the national, provincial and nuclear facility operator along with its owner corporation nuclear emergency centers along with all the members of the National Nuclear  Emergency Coordination Committee thereby constituting a network system covering the full range of task assignment, technical support and safeguard provision. Push forward construction of the National Nuclear Emergency Response (Command) Center. Fourthly, to strengthen nuclear emergency rescue system building. In accordance with the national unified nuclear emergency capabilities system, deploy military and regional resources and differentiate capability deployment amongst state, province and nuclear installation operator levels. Make every effort to perfect the nuclear emergency rescue system. Fifthly, to strengthen nuclear emergency technical support system building. Set up and complete national level nuclear emergency technical support system work mechanism and operational mode, strengthen the coordinated drills of nuclear emergency technical support research and specialize technical support capabilities. The province-level nuclear emergency organization shall set up and perfect technical support capabilities fully commensurate with its own nuclear emergency needs with the required technical support means put into place. Sixthly, to strengthen nuclear emergency science and technology R&D. Strengthen top-down design and place the emphasis on studies associated with inter-regional nuclear emergency, small modular reactor nuclear emergency, and new generation of nuclear power technology related emergency matters with the associated policies and standards unveiled. Establish and perfect nuclear accident consequence assessment and decision support system with Chinese characteristics. Seventhly, strengthening nuclear emergency infrastructure building. Implement nationwide nuclear emergency mega-data strategy to improve the modernization level associated with nuclear emergency management of the country in a comprehensive way. Eighthly, to reinforce nuclear emergency training, exercises and drills. Strengthen management of national nuclear emergency training, study and develop national level nuclear emergency training programs, perfect the system of national nuclear emergency management training materials and curricula with a view to improving the scientific level of training and establishing a stable long-term mechanism applicable to nuclear emergency training. Organize more than 5 sessions of national level nuclear emergency training. Organize the third “Shendun” series national nuclear emergency joint exercise. Organize 1 or 2 regional, specialized and modular nuclear emergency exercises. Ninthly, to strengthen nuclear emergency public communication and publicity activities. In accordance with the Measures for Administration of Release of Nuclear Accident (Event) Information, we will establish and perfect unified work mechanism regarding release of nuclear emergency information; strengthen public communication and science popularization of nuclear emergency work across the country. At appropriate times, we will organize centralized promotional activities within the country to foster an environment conducive to nuclear energy development. Tenthly, to strengthen national nuclear emergency on-duty system building. Establish and improve upon the national nuclear emergency on-duty system. Ensure smooth communication between China’s national nuclear emergency contact point and IAEA along with other countries’ nuclear emergency communication channels.  Ensure smooth flow of information between China’s National Nuclear Emergency Office and Hong Kong/Macau/Taiwan regions. Ensure smooth flow of information between China’s National Nuclear Emergency Office and the nuclear emergency management organizations of the key nuclear installation operators, provincial (autonomous regional and municipal) nuclear emergency organizations as well as within the various members of the National Nuclear Emergency Coordination Committee. Eleventhly, to strengthen international and regional exchanges and cooperation. Every effort will be made to continuously expand international and regional cooperation and exchanges in terms of content and format. Forge ahead with multilateral and bilateral cooperation and exchanges in fulfillment of international obligations in the field of nuclear emergency. Take active part in the drawing up of international nuclear emergency standard guidelines and in international nuclear emergency rescue operations by organizing or participating in one international nuclear plant emergency exercise.