China completed three new nuclear plants not far from the Vietnamese border. IAEA warns that, in case of nuclear disaster, Vietnam would certainly be affected. China is also planning small mobile nuclear power stations for the South China Sea where they could cause unprecedented harm to the marine environment.
Hanoi (AsiaNews) – China’s announcement that it had completed three nuclear power plants has set off alarm bells and raised concerns in Vietnam. Since they are located near its border, they could affect the health of Vietnamese in case of malfunction.
The nuclear power plants in question are the 1,000 MW facility in Phòng Thành (Guangxi Province), 50 kilometres from the Vietnamese province of Quang Ninh; the 600-MW plant in Trường Giang (Guangdong), 200 kilometres from the Vietnamese border; and the 650-MW Sương Giang plant on Hainan Island.
Vietnamese authorities have expressed concerns after the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) warned that, in case of failure or nuclear disaster, Vietnam would certainly be affected by radiation.
Concern is especially high since storms and floods frequently hit the area, enhancing the risk of accidents at the plants.
“The government of a country that builds and operates nuclear power plants must comply with the Nuclear Safety Convention and with the provisions of the International Atomic Energy Agency,” said on 13 October Lê Hải Bình, spokesman for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Vietnam. “That country must ensure that its nuclear power plants do not have any serious and dangerous impact on the environment of neighbouring countries.”
According to IAEA, China currently has 35 nuclear power plants. In order to meet its demand for power, it is expected to build 100 more plants by 2030, and 170 by 2050.
The Global Times (which is published by the People's Daily) has reported that Chinese shipbuilders are also developing 20 mobile nuclear power stations to be deployed in the South China and East China Seas as well as on artificial islands China has built in the Spratly and Paracel, which are also claimed by Vietnam).
These small nuclear power plants would be inside 6 metre by 2.6 metre containers to produce 10 megawatt of thermal energy, enough for 50,000 households.
US and Asian environmental experts have already criticised China for damaging the marine environment and coral reefs in the South China Sea by building artificial islands.
Residents of coastal Vietnam, already badly affected by an ongoing pollution emergency, fear that placing nuclear plants in the middle of the sea could cause unprecedented harm to one of the most important fishing zones in the world.
About US$ 5 trillion of annual shipping trade also passes through the area.