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China cancels $6 billion uranium project after protest

Saturday, 13 Jul 2013 | 2:20 AM ET
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China has cancelled plans to build a uranium processing plant in a southern Chinese city a day after hundreds of protesters took to the streets demanding the project be scrapped, a local government website said on Saturday.

The proposed 230-hectare complex in the heart of China's Pearl River delta industrial heartland in Guangdong province had also sparked unease in neighboring Hong Kong and Macau.

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Authorities in the gambling enclave had formally raised the issue with their Guangdong counterparts, the South China Morning Post reported.

A one-line statement published on the Heshan city government's website said that "to respect people's desire, the Heshan government will not propose the CNNC project."

State-run China National Nuclear Corporation had planned to build the 37 billion yuan ($6 billion) project.

CNNC officials could not be reached for comment.

The surprisingly swift decision to cancel the project came after hundreds marched to city offices on Friday that forced officials to pledge an extension of public consultation by 10 days. Locals had planned more protests on Sunday.

Chinese authorities are becoming increasingly sensitive to local protests over environmental issues, having cancelled, postponed or relocated several major petrochemical and metals plants.

(Read More: China Bowing to Public Outcry Over Environment: Advocate)

Guangdong is one of the country's largest nuclear power bases, already running five nuclear reactors and building another dozen, incorporating technologies from companies like French Areva and Westinghouse, a unit of Japan's Toshiba Corp.