05/13/2014, 00.00
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China rehearses nuclear nightmare drill

China's rich southern province of Guangdong will host a major nuclear accident drill next year, simulating a refuelling process incident at one of its plants. China has 19 reactors in operation, the oldest since 1994, with an additional 29 on the way.

Beijing (AsiaNews) - China will stage a national nuclear disaster drill next year in Guangdong, home to some of China's largest and oldest commercial reactors. The 2015 Shendun (Heavenly Shield) will be the first such drill since 2009.

The exercises would involve the central government, provincial authorities and nuclear power plant operators, said Yao Bin, deputy director with the National Nuclear Emergency Response Office in Beijing.

After "Developing nuclear power for more than five decades, our country has maintained a good nuclear safety record," Yao is quoting as saying.

"To get prepared before the occurrence of disaster, our country has taken comprehensive measures to build up a national nuclear emergency response system with 'healthy institutions, robust capability and combat readiness'."

Huang Min, a nuclear safety coordinator with the State Administration for Science, Technology and Industry for National Defence, said that the drill would simulate an incident during the refuelling process, in which depleted uranium fuel rods are replaced with new ones.

Overall, China has 19 reactors in operation with 29 under construction - the highest number in the world.

With three nuclear power plants at Daya Bay, Lingao and Yangjiang, the southern province of Guangdong was chosen because it has "more nuclear reactors in operation and construction" than any other part of the country.

The Daya Bay plant, which started operating in 1994, is the oldest commercial nuclear power plant in the country.

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