Jiangsu, government stops nuclear power plant project after three days of mass demonstrations

The population fears the risks to safety and the neglect of the authorities. The project was a collaboration between China and France. Dozens arrested for throwing stones at police and seat of local government.

Beijing (AsiaNews / Agencies) - The government of Lianyungang (Jiangsu), has suspended plans to build a nuclear plant after three days of protests by thousands of people.

The authorities' decision was taken over night. The plant was to have been a collaboration between the China National Nuclear Corporation and the French company Areva and planned to recycle spent nuclear fuel. The population was fearful of possible radiation and protested the fact that all of the decisions had been taken without their involvement.

The protests took place over the last three days, with the police trying to defend the government offices from attacks, threatening to shoot. A dozen people were arrested for throwing stones.

China has planned the largest number of nuclear power plants worldwide. It has 32 reactors in place; another 22 under construction; many more in the project phase.

The protests reflect the fears of the population because of safety risks. They also reveal popular distrust of the authorities who have kept silent on various accidents related to industrial safety in the recent past. Chief among these was the Tianjin incident last year where a fire released poisonous substances into the air and water: hundreds of tons of cyanide salts were stored near a residential area.