Damage to some Chinese nuclear facilities can't be ruled out: French experts

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Paris: French nuclear experts on Tuesday said damage to nuclear facilities close to the epicentre of China's massive earthquake could not immediately be ruled out.

The Institute for Radiological Protection and Nuclear Safety (IRSN) said it was unlikely that China's four nuclear power plants -- Daya Bay and Lingao in the south, Qinshan in the east and Tianwan in the northeast -- had been badly damaged.

They are all more than 1,000 kilometres (620) miles from the epicentre, which was in the southwestern province of Sichuan.

"As the maximum (ground) acceleration detected during the quake at such distances did not exceed 20 centimetres per second, it is likely that these reactors have not suffered significant damage," the IRSN said in a bulletin.

Twenty centimetres per second is equivalent to a movement of 0.72 kilometers, or 0.45 miles, per hour.

The IRSN noted that other nuclear sites, used for fuel manufacture or as research reactors, were located in Sichuan, and some were within 100 kms (62 miles) of the epicentre.

"Given the sharp ground acceleration of 250 centimetres per second (nine kph, 5.6 mph) detected 70 kilometres (43.75 miles) from the epicentre, it is not possible at this stage to rule out damage to these
facilities," the institute said.

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