HONG KONG — One day after an uncommon public protest, Chinese authorities said Saturday that they were abandoning plans to construct a uranium processing plant in southeastern China, where residents raised concerns about its safety and potential environmental impact.
The decision not to proceed with the plant in Guangdong province, less than 60 miles from Hong Kong, came after hundreds of people turned out Friday and “took a walk” through the city of Jiangmen, carrying banners showing their opposition to the proposed plant, which would have been capable of processing half the fuel needed for China’s nuclear power needs. Unsanctioned gatherings are banned in China, but participants said the police did not intervene to stop the protest.
The Jiangmen City government website said Saturday that the project had been “canceled,” and Southern Daily, the official newspaper of the Communist Party in Guangdong, said the decision was made “out of respect for public opinion.”
The protest in Jiangmen was the latest display of growing public disquiet about environmental hazards, which could frustrate China’s ambitious plans for nuclear power and technology.
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The catastrophic failures at nuclear power plants in Fukushima, Japan, in 2011, also kindled anxiety in China about its expansion of nuclear power.