China to sell portable nuclear reactor based on ‘fundamentally unsafe’ design used in 1970s Soviet subs. Reactor will be used to help Beijing take control of disputed islands in the South China Sea by supplying power for new settlements. China has developed a nuclear power plant so small it can fit inside a shipping container – to help Beijing’s efforts to take control of disputed islands in the South China Sea. The reactor, which was partly funded by the People’s Liberation Army, will be used to supply electricity to new settlements and desalinate sea water for drinking. The reactor is based on a design used in 1970s Soviet submarines, which one British expert described as “fundamentally unsafe”. The UK Government has expressed an interest in using small modular nuclear reactors, which could provide heat to local communities as well as generating electricity. But John Large, a British independent nuclear consultant who advised the Russian government after the nuclear submarine Kursk sank in 2000, dismissed the suggestion the Chinese reactors might be an option. “The lead-bismuth reactor, in my opinion, wouldn’t be developable to an acceptably safe point because it is fundamentally unsafe,” he said. Mr Large said while the Soviet submarines powered by the reactors had been “very, very fast”, reaching speeds of up to 45 knots, they were also “well-known for killing off their crews with radiation”. And a marine environment researcher at the Ocean University of China, who asked not to be named, also expressed concerns to the South China Morning Post.
Independent 11th Oct 2016 read more »
In stark contrast to most of the world, China is building nuclear power stations like there’s no tomorrow, with eight approved last year and 40 to be constructed by 2020. Beijing will fund the controversial Hinkley Point plant in Somerset and may build another in Essex. Its latest trick involves developing a nuclear plant so small it can be packed into a standard shipping container and dispatched to support Beijing’s aggressive island-building campaign in the disputed South China Sea. The small, lead-cooled reactor, which could be installed within five years, would generate ten megawatts of heat, enough to power 50,000 households, the South China Morning Post has reported. “Part of our funding came from the military, but we hope – and it’s our ultimate goal – that the technology will eventually benefit civilian users,” Huang Qunying, a nuclear scientist, said. He admitted that it wo uld be a challenge to convince citizens of the safety of the technology, which is similar to that used in Soviet nuclear submarines in the 1970s.
Times 12th Oct 2016 read more »
Daily Mail 11th Oct 2016 read more »