Chinese firm behind Essex nuclear plant refuses to reveal security information

The Chinese state-owned company planning a nuclear power station in Essexrefused to share the security arrangements for a Chinese nuclear plant with the British authorities, it has been revealed.

Inspectors from the UK nuclear regulator visited the China General Nuclear Power Corporation (CGN) in Shenzhen earlier this year, as part of the four-year approval process for the reactor the company wants to build at Bradwell.

A green light from the Office for Nuclear Regulation (ONR) would be a huge boost for China’s aspirations for exporting nuclear technology and Bradwell would be the first Chinese reactor to be built in a developed country.

Overall the ONR welcomed the “high level of expertise and commitment” shown by the Chinese, according to a report of the visit on 13-16 March, released to the Guardian under freedom of information rules.

However, CGN said it could not share material about security measures to protect its nuclear plant in Fangchenggang, China, which Bradwell could be modelled on.

“With regard to the sharing of information, such as the security plans for FCG [Fangchenggang] Unit 3, CGN stated that these were protected documents under Chinese regulations,” the UK authorities wrote, in a glimpse of UK nuclear regulation rubbing up against Chinese state secrecy.

But the ONR insisted that it was commonplace for foreign nuclear companies not to share sensitive documents around national security during the UK nuclear approval process, known as the Generic Design Assessment (GDA). It added that it was the arrangements for Bradwell that were relevant, not Fangchenggang.

A spokeswoman said: “It is routine for site security plans to be protected, and is not unexpected. It will in no way restrict our assessment of the UK HPR100 [the Chinese reactor design].”

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Source: The Guardian