Nonproliferation
Resource
Fact Sheet

Spent Nuclear Fuel in China

Management and Disposal of Spent Nuclear Fuel in China

  • June 1, 2020
  • 8:31 pm

Highlights

5,849.8 tHM spent nuclear fuel in storage (2016)
111,290 tHM spent nuclear fuel projected by 2050
1991 First year of commercial nuclear operation
48 operating nuclear power reactors
16 operating research and test reactors
10 power reactors under construction
35.81 GW(e) installed nuclear capacity (2017)
4.22% nuclear share of domestic energy production (2018)

Regulator: National Nuclear Safety Administration
Power Operators: China National Nuclear Corporation (CNNC) and China General Nuclear Power Group (CGN),

Nuclear Power stations in China (as of 2019)

Management and Disposal of Spent Nuclear Fuel

Practices

  • As of 2016, SNF was stored onsite at 39 pools and at 1 dry interim facility at Qinshan NPP
  • There is a project between China National Nuclear Corporation (CNNC) and France’s AREVA to develop an 800 t/yr reprocessing plant costing $15.7 billion that includes an SNF storage facility in 2018.
  • CNNC is pursuing MOX fuel fabrication with Belgian organizations and in 2018 it opened the Research Centre for Nuclear Fuels and Materials; other institutes also research thorium and uranium advanced fuel
  • In 2018, 32 years after site investigations began for a DGR, an underground research laboratory was approved in Gansu’s Beishan region; DGR construction is planned to begin in 2040, with waste disposal beginning in 2050

Obligations

  • China is a nuclear-weapon State and has a voluntary offer agreement with the IAEA (INFCIRC/369, 1989) and an additional protocol which entered into force in 2002
  • China acceded to the Joint Convention in 2006
  • Spent fuel management requirements come from the 2002 Regulations for Radioactive Waste Management, 2011 Regulations on Safety of Radioactive Waste Management along with other laws.
  • In 1987 China announced a long-term closed fuel cycle strategy, which would gradually reduce the amount of spent fuel in storage
  • China National Nuclear Corporation (CNNC) is responsible for administration and operation of the whole nuclear fuel cycle

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