China utility company starts building new nuclear plant

A utility company said it had started building China's new nuclear power plant, the first since the government lifted a construction moratorium imposed on the industry to review safety following the Fukushima disaster in Japan.

The facility in the eastern coastal city of Rongcheng would incorporate Chinese-developed safety features and would start operation by the end of 2017, the state-owned Huaneng Shandong Shidao Bay Nuclear Power Co said.

China is looking to push ahead with nuclear development even as countries like Japan and Germany are planning to scale back or shut down their nuclear power industries.

Nuclear energy is a key element in China's efforts to rein in demand for fossil fuels.

Beijing suspended approval of new nuclear power plants to carry out safety reviews following the Japan's 2011 earthquake and tsunami that wrecked the Fukushima plant and led to partial meltdowns, in the world's worst nuclear disaster since the 1986 Chernobyl catastrophe.

The government said in October it would resume a limited number new nuclear power plants, adding the highest safety standards would be required and facilities would be allowed only in coastal areas.