28 September 2013

Construction Begins in China on Tianwan 4

On 27 September 2013, it was announced that with the first concrete poured, construction had begun on the fourth reactor at Tianwan, in Jiangsu province on the Yellow Sea, eastern China. The Tianwan reactor unit-4 is a VVER-1000 (AES-91), designed by Gidropress and supplied by Rosatom, and joins Tianwan-,3 construction of which began in December 2012 under Phase II of plans at the site. Operation of both reactors is scheduled for 2018. Under Phase III of developments at the site a potential four additional reactors will be built at the site. With last weeks news of construction having begun on unit 5 at Yangjiang, there are now officially 30 reactors under construction in China. The Tianwan plant is operated by the China National Nuclear Corporation (CNNC). Under a 2011 contract AREVA-Siemens instrumentation and control systems will be used. Construction of Tianwan unit 2 took seven years, one year longer than planned, beginning commercial operation from 2007. In February 2010 it was announced that there would be a dramatic reduction in revenue for Rosatom during the phase II of the project from an original 3.5 billion Euros to 1.5 billion Euros. International safety reviews of the VVER design have led to stated improvements but according to reports it is unclear which of all of the recommended passive safety systems were finally incorporated by CNNC at Tianwan. A cloud of suspicion also hangs over the quality of Russian-made components following a corruption scandal involving one of Tianwan’s suppliers, with reports of thousands of individual complaints from CNNC on the low quality of material supplied to the earlier Tianwan reactors. In a survey of local public opinion in 2012, a majority (54%) expressed opposition to building nuclear reactors at Tianwan due to safety concerns—an issue that Chinese authorities are increasingly aware of—needs urgent address.