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China authorities demand nuclear plant halt
by Staff Writers
Beijing (AFP) Feb 9, 2012

Authorities in eastern China have demanded that construction on a nuclear power station be stopped immediately, saying residents in the quake-prone area are in danger, state media reported Thursday.

Energy-hungry China -- eager to increase the amount of nuclear power it uses to drive its economy -- is building 25 atomic reactors and the demand is considered highly unusual.

According to the state-run Beijing News, the Wangjiang district government in Anhui province says data from an environmental impact assessment on construction of the power plant in a neighbouring district was wrong.

Quoting an official document published online earlier this week, the report said the number of people living less than 10 kilometres (six miles) from the plant in Jiangxi province, which borders Anhui, had been underestimated.

The document also pointed out that a 5.7-magnitude earthquake hit the region in 2006 and a 4.6-magnitude tremor rattled the same area in September.

Wangjiang officials say they are worried that "gas and toxic liquids emitted by the plant will severely affect residents downstream" from the site in Pengze, the report said.

The Pengze government has said that the claims are "baseless", according to the report.

In a comment piece, the newspaper urged evaluation reports on the project -- approved in 2010 and where preliminary construction work has already started -- be made "public and transparent".

"The Fukushima nuclear power plant accident in Japan last year represents a big warning," it said.

China has 14 active nuclear reactors. It aims to multiply by five or six times the electricity it produces from nuclear energy by 2020, according to the World Nuclear Association.

The Fukushima accident, triggered by a devastating earthquake and tsunami, prompted a nationwide check of nuclear facilities in China last April.

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Tokyo activists demand nuclear referendum
Tokyo (AFP) Feb 9, 2012 - Activists in Tokyo said Thursday they had collected enough signatures to demand authorities in Japan's capital hold a referendum on using nuclear power to supply the megalopolis with electricity.

Some 250,000 people in Tokyo have signed a petition circulating since December 10 -- more than the 214,000 threshold, one fiftieth of all electors, required to request a poll.

The campaign follows the nuclear crisis at the Fukushima power plant after the earthquake and tsunami of March 11. Many Japanese now want to abandon atomic energy or reduce its share of electricity generation.

In Japan nuclear power stations need approval from local authorities to operate, and voters would cast ballots for or against giving such permission to Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO), which operates two power stations at Fukushima and one at Kashiwazaki-Kariwa.

The three complexes have a total of 17 reactors, but currently only one is online.

According to reports all Tokyoites aged 16 or over, including permanent resident aliens, would be able to take part in a referendum.


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US urges Bulgaria to diversify energy supply
Sofia (AFP) Feb 9, 2012
The United States increased pressure on Bulgaria Thursday to diversify its energy sector during a visit here of US special envoy for Eurasian energy Richard Morningstar. "The major point is how important it is for Bulgaria to have transparency in the energy sector as well as diversification," Morningstar told journalists after talks with Bulgarian President Rosen Plevneliev Thursday. "Th ... read more

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