China’s fifth nuclear reactor, the 984 MWe Ling Ao unit 1, achieved core criticality on February 4th three weeks ahead of schedule. The project is owned by Ling Ao Nuclear Power Company. Framatome, who supplied two similar units on the nearby Daya Bay site, provided the two nuclear islands, along with erection and supports services. The first fuel loading of the plant was completed on December 14 last year.

LANPC will now begin physical tests to verify core compliance, following which power will be increased in the reactor in stages. These operations will be carried out under the supervision of the Chinese National Nuclear Safety Administration (NNSA). The unit was scheduled for connection to the grid at 10 per cent power in March, while commercial operation is scheduled for June 2002.