Expert: China's nuclear emergency rescue force the safest in the world

Source: China Military OnlineEditor: Zhang Tao
2016-01-29 17:23

BEIJING, Jan. 29 (ChinaMil) -- The State Council Information Office held a press conference Wednesday on China's Nuclear Emergency Preparedness, the first white paper published by the country in the nuclear field.

Yin Zhuo, director of the PLA Navy's Expert Consultation Committee, said in an interview that with a well-developed response mechanism, China's nuclear emergency rescue force is one of the safest in the world.

The press conference revealed that China is to form a national nuclear emergency rescue team composed of 320 people to be mainly responsible for undertaking unexpected rescue missions in serious nuclear accident scenarios and emergency treatment tasks, and stand ready to take part in international nuclear emergency rescue operations.

Nuclear emergency preparedness denotes the emergency actions taken to control, contain and mitigate a nuclear accident, and to minimize the consequences of such accidents, which are different from the normal order and working procedure. They are emergency response actions guided by the government, assisted by the relevant enterprises, coordinated among all the involved parties and implemented in a unified manner.

Nuclear emergency preparedness is of paramount importance and bears on the overall situation, and is therefore of critical significance to the protection of the general public, the environment and social stability as well as safeguarding national security, according to the white paper.

The white paper also pointed out that "China has consistently given top priority to nuclear safety in its peaceful use of nuclear energy, and has persisted in an overall national security concept by advocating a rational, coordinated and balanced nuclear safety outlook. China has followed the approach of enhancing safety for the sake of development and promoting development by upholding safety in an unrelenting effort to bring the dual goals of development and safety in alignment with each other. In the past six decades or so, the Chinese people have been working with stamina and diligence in the pursuit of nuclear energy utilization, with splendid achievements. At the same time, the Chinese people have been sparing no effort to improve nuclear safety techniques, enforce rigorous nuclear safety supervision, strengthen nuclear emergency management and ensure that nuclear energy has always maintained a sound safety record."

When asked on what level is China's nuclear emergency rescue force in the world, Yin Zhou said it's one of the safest in the world. China has never had a major nuclear accident higher than Level-2, which well demonstrates the capability of its technology and personnel training.

At times of emergencies, China's emergency rescue team has always fully played their part, neither allowing the incident to spread nor causing panic or collateral casualties. In general, China has a well-developed emergency response mechanism, Yin added.

"But there is room for improvement." Yin Zhou held that more efforts shall be made to popularize nuclear knowledge and inform the general public of nuclear emergency response schemes, such as emergency exit and evacuation area.

Nuclear accidents know no national boundaries, and everything related to nuclear emergency management is too important to be taken lightly. Drawing on the lessons learned from the Three Mile Island, Chernobyl and Fukushima nuclear accidents, China has come to a profound understanding of the utmost importance of nuclear emergencies, and the need to continuously strengthen and improve nuclear emergency preparedness and responses with a view to constantly enhancing the nuclear safety safeguard level.

According to Yin Zhuo, nuclear accidents are generally divided into the following types.

The first is accident at nuclear power stations, which has happened many times and caused major consequences and large casualties.

The second is accident of military nuclear reactors, such as the sinking and explosion of vessels and submarines and accidental crash of planes carrying nuclear warheads.

The third type is loss of nuclear materials for medical purpose, which, once picked up by others, would cause nuclear contamination and radioactive damage.

The fourth is mineral containing nuclear substances. For instance, nuclear leakage may happen if anything goes wrong during uranium exploitation and extraction and cause environmental consequences.

Yin Zhuo advised that to avoid nuclear accidents, the first thing we should do is to be more alert because most accidents take place because of human-error misoperation. Meanwhile, great efforts shall be made to prevent panic, whose carry-on effects could be even more damaging than the nuclear accident itself.

The author is Huang Zijuan, reporter from the People's Daily Online. The opinions expressed here are those of the writer and don't represent views of the China Military Online website.

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