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BEIJING — China's nuclear safety agency had ordered staffers to be prepared for an environmental emergency the day after a massive earthquake jolted a region that includes several key atomic sites.
France's nuclear watchdog has said some of China's nuclear facilities sustained minor damage in Monday's magnitude 7.9 earthquake, though no Chinese government Web sites viewed Saturday mentioned any damage.
China has a research reactor, two nuclear fuel production sites and two atomic weapons sites in Sichuan province, where the quake struck, the French agency said. All were 40 to 90 miles from the epicenter.
Nuclear experts said there were several possibilities if any significant damage occurred at the plants, at least one of which is alongside a river. A radioactive leak could cause environmental harm, while internal damage could set back China's nuclear modernization, they said.
Mianyang, an industrial city of 700,000 people that is the headquarters of China's nuclear weapons design industry, was in the disaster area.
China's largest plutonium production reactor is also in the quake zone at Guangyuan.