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CNNC Bows to Public Pressure and Cancels Nuclear Plant

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The mainland city of Heshan has announced the sudden termination of a controversial plan to build a nuclear fuel processing plant. After public discontent extended from the internet to the street, around 1,000 residents united in protest against the project on the grounds of safety and environmental concerns.

Early last Saturday morning, one night after the first public protest against the project, the local government of Heshan published an announcement in its official website, stating that the authorities had “cancelled” the project. According to Xinhua news agency: various sources, including officials of the municipal and provincial governments and the China National Nuclear Corporation (CNNC), all confirmed that the project has been put to a halt. Last Friday, approximately 1,000 people took to the street in Jiangmen, roughly 30km from Heshan, to protest against the local government’s plan to construct a nuclear fuel plant 90km north of Macau.

According to mainland media, the public protest came about after months of escalating discontent amongst residents in the neighboring areas who were concerned about the possibility that the nuclear fuel processing plants might pose potential safety and environmental risks. Another matter for contention was that the local authorities did not consult residents before greenlighting the project, which local media quoted government sources as saying will start construction later this year.

The protesters shouted slogans and displayed banners in opposition to the facility. They tried to march to the municipal government headquarters, but were stopped by police officers. The protesters dispersed peacefully after the authorities promised to extend the public consultation period by 10 days, from July 13 to July 23. But the following night, the whole project was terminated by the local authorities, who had aimed to make use of the RMB40b project to create a nuclear stronghold in Asia.

In Macau, the SAR government confirmed last Friday that it had received a document outlining details of the proposed project from Jiangmen. The SAR government has contacted the authorities in Guangdong for further information on the controversial issue. A group of people, claiming to be Jiangmen natives living in Macau and South America, published a full front-page advertisement last Friday in the Chinese newspaper Macao Daily (Ou Mun) to protest the construction plan, and urged people to support their initiative against the controversial RMB40b project.  On the same day, a group of four Macau citizens went to the Central Liaison Office in NAPE to hand in a petition against the plant.

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