1 April 2015

Construction Start on Hongyanhe‑5 in China

Construction Start on Hongyanhe-5 in China

31 March 2015

Construction began 29 March 2015 with the pouring of base mat concrete for the Hongyanhe-5 ACPR-1000 reactor located near the city of Dalian, Liaoning province, north-east China. Approval for start of construction of new reactor projects was granted by the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) on 10 March 2015. The approval was the first to be made since the State Council following the Fukushima Daiichi accident decided to halt approvals and licensing for new reactors until a safety plan was in place and there was assurance that existing plants were adequately designed, sited, protected and managed. The NDRC is the macroeconomic management agency directly under the State Council. It has been finally responsible for assessment and approval of major projects, and is responsible for deciding which major nuclear power projects proceed, and when.

The start of construction at Hongyanhe marks the opening of Phase II of nuclear power plant development at the site where two “advanced” ACPR-1000s will be built, with Phase I the construction and operation of four CPR-1000 reactors. On 23 March 2015, Hongyanhe-3 was connected to the grid, with unit 4 planned for operation later this year. The two ACPR’s are scheduled for completion by 2021. The Hongyanhe nuclear power plant is operated by the Liaoning Hongyanhe Nuclear Power Co. Ltd, which was established in 2006 by the China Guangdong Nuclear Power Co. Ltd., CPI Nuclear Power Co. Ltd. and Dalian Construction Investment Company.

The ACPR-1000 is a so-called enhanced version of the CPR-1000, reportedly with higher seismic standards, double containment, and a reactor core catcher. In ACPR-1000 is designated Generation III and therefore in compliance with the terms of the State Council Nuclear Power Safety Plan announced in October 2012. These revised plans, following the March 2011 Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster, specified that all new commercial reactor projects approved for construction in China would be of Generation III design.

Chinese nuclear officials defending the design of the ACPR-1000 have cited measures to reduce the risk of vessel melt-through, to limit the risk of loss of coolant accidents, and to increase the capacity to cope with hydrogen formation under containment, as well as the back-fit of digital instrumentation & control systems. Questions remain as to the safety revisions incorporated into the ACPR-1000 and the overall qualification of the design by Chinese regulators following the Fukushima Daiichi accident.

Design work on the ACPR-1000 began in 2009, prior to the Fukushima accident. In mid-November 2011, the operator of the Yangjiang nuclear power plant, China Guangdong Nuclear Power, now China General Nuclear Power Group, revealed the basic design of the ACPR-1000, including the claim that it had taken into account the lessons of the Fukushima accident. That affirmation appears barely credible given that it was pronounced less than six months after the events in Japan. Further, the ACPR-1000 is reported to be in compliance with the latest domestic Code of Safety of Nuclear Power Plant Design (HAF102), which itself dates from 2004. The IAEA was requested to conduct a Generic Reactor Safety Review (GRSR) for the design concept for the ACPR-1000. This was completed in May 2013. The results have not been made public.