French Operator of Chinese Nuclear Plant Flags ‘Performance Issues’ After Reports of ‘Imminent Radiological Threat’

By Tom Ozimek
Tom Ozimek
Tom Ozimek
Reporter
Tom Ozimek has a broad background in journalism, deposit insurance, marketing and communications, and adult education. The best writing advice he's ever heard is from Roy Peter Clark: 'Hit your target' and 'leave the best for last.'
June 14, 2021 Updated: June 16, 2021

A French nuclear firm said it’s working to resolve a “performance issue” at a plant it partially owns in China’s Guangdong Province, following reports that U.S. authorities have been assessing a report of a possible leak at the facility amid warnings of an “imminent radiological threat,” according to reports.

Framatome, a division of French power group EDF, told France 24 in a statement on June 14 that it’s “supporting resolution of a performance issue” at the Taishan Nuclear Power Plant, which is a joint venture between EDF and China General Nuclear Power Group (CGN), located around 84 miles west of Hong Kong.

“According to the data available, the plant is operating within the safety parameters,” the company told France 24. “Our team is working with relevant experts to assess the situation and propose solutions to address any potential issue.”

It follows an earlier CNN report on June 14 that stated that the U.S. government has been assessing a report of a leak at the plant. The outlet reported that Framatome, which is the EDF unit that designed the reactor at the plant and is involved in its operations, had warned of an “imminent radiological threat.”

Citing a letter from Framatome to U.S. authorities, CNN reported that the warning included an allegation that Chinese authorities had raised the acceptable limits of radiation outside the plant to avoid having to shut down the facility.

State-owned CGN said in a statement on June 13 that “the environmental indicators of Taishan Nuclear Power Plant and its surroundings are normal.” It didn’t reference any leaks or incidents at the facility, but said it meets both safety regulations and technical requirements for nuclear plant operation.

EDF told Reuters it had called a meeting with CGN and that the buildup of inert gases such as argon, helium, or neon was a “known phenomenon, studied and provided for in the reactor operating procedures.”

The Taishan reactor is the first French-designed, so-called third-generation Evolutionary Power Reactor of its type to become operational.

The technology is also being deployed in France, Finland, and at the China-invested Hinkley Point C project in Britain.

The power from the plant serves the Guangzhou and Shenzhen areas, Guangdong Province’s major manufacturing hubs, which have faced power shortages in recent weeks due to hot weather and lower than normal hydropower supplies from neighboring Yunnan Province.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Tom Ozimek
Tom Ozimek
Reporter
Tom Ozimek has a broad background in journalism, deposit insurance, marketing and communications, and adult education. The best writing advice he's ever heard is from Roy Peter Clark: 'Hit your target' and 'leave the best for last.'