New nuclear safety law to be drafted by China soon

nuclear safety

As geopolitical tensions continue to rise in the Asia-Pacific region, China is speeding up the drafting of a nuclear safety law and atomic energy law. A white paper on its nuclear emergency preparedness was released on January 27.

China began to build its first nuclear power plant in 1985. It has made fast progress in legislation of nuclear emergency response, said the document issued by the State Council Information Office. China adopted a regulation on emergency management of nuclear accidents in 1993. It was the first in this area. China later adopted the law on prevention and control of radioactive pollution. The law on emergency response covered nuclear accidents, the white paper said.

The state security law was revised in July 2015. Under the revised law, it reinforced regulation on nuclear emergencies. In recent years China has also set up a nuclear emergency management system. The new system delegates responsibility with clear division of duty among the central government, provincial governments and nuclear power plants.

 The national level comprises the National Nuclear Accident Emergency Coordination Committee. This committee is made up of civilian departments and military.  It also has a general office in charge of regular works.

The provincial governments, autonomous regions and municipalities where nuclear power plants are located, have set up nuclear emergency coordination departments. These governments  took charge of emergency response within their jurisdiction.

While, the central government has drawn up a national contingency plan, provincial governments and all nuclear power plants issued their own plans.

With major accidents taking place in nuclear reactors across the world such as Fukushima in recent times, countries have been under pressure to implement robust nuclear safety laws to prevent disasters and have emergency response systems in place in the event of a disaster. The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), set up by the United Nations in 1957, was to act as an auditor of world nuclear safety.  This role was increased greatly after the Chernobyl accident in Ukraine in 1986. 

(Sridhar Ramaswamy contributed inputs for this article)


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