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China scraps uranium plant after protest

Government cancels $6bn uranium processing project in Heshan after hundreds take to streets over environmental concerns.

Last Modified: 13 Jul 2013 14:09
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The Saturday decision came after hundreds of protesters paraded through the streets [Reuters]

China has cancelled plans to build its largest uranium processing plant in a southern city of Heshan, a day after hundreds of protesters took to the streets demanding the project be scrapped, a local government website has said.

"The people's government of the city of Heshan has decided to respect the public opinion and will not consider China National Nuclear Corporation's (CNNC) industrial park project,'' read the online announcement published on the Heshan city government's website on Saturday.

State-run CNNC and China Guangdong Nuclear Power Corp (CGNPC) had planned to build the 37 billion yuan ($6bn) project.

The planned conversion and enrichment plant had been meant to supply fuel for China's expanding nuclear power capacity, likely to reach 60-70 gigawatts by 2020 from the current 12.6 GW.

The proposed 230-hectare complex in the heart of China's Pearl River delta industrial heartland in Guangdong province had also sparked unease in neighbouring Hong Kong and Macau.

Protests against the project

The Saturday decision came after hundreds of protesters paraded through the streets, holding banners and wearing T-shirts with phrases opposing the project while chanting slogans.

"Give us back our rural homes. We are against nuclear radiation,'' they shouted in scenes seen in television video.

Environmentalists in China have long called on local governments to take steps allowing for greater transparency and better public involvement when introducing projects that may be environmentally risky.

Chinese authorities are becoming increasingly sensitive to local protests over environmental issues, having cancelled, postponed or relocated several major petrochemical and metals plants.

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