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An imminent radiological threat – UK’s planned Hinkley and Sizewell nuclear reactors – same design as flawed EPR reactor in China

The second EPR reactor at China’s Taishan nuclear power plant is about to enter into commercial operation.

June 14 marks the first real public reports of the accident at the
Taishan-1 nuclear reactor in China, and the Nuclear Free Local Authorities
have questioned whether the recent findings from the ongoing investigation
indicate that the EPR reactor design intended for Hinkley Point C and
Sizewell C has a ‘fatal flaw’.

Located almost 90 miles west of Hong
Kong, the Taishan-1 and 2 reactors were the first of their kind to enter
service, being of the same EPR (European Pressurised Reactors) design
intended for the Hinkley Point C and Sizewell C plants.

Designed and installed by EDF-subsidiary Framatome, building work started in 2009 and
they began commercial operations in December 2018 and September 2019,
respectively. The project is operated by Taishan Nuclear Power Joint
Venture Co. Ltd, which is jointly owned by CGN (70%) and Framatome, a
subsidiary of EDF (30%).

In late May 2021, American media outlets reported
the venting of radioactive gas at Taishan-1 following an equipment failure.

Rather than authorising an immediate shutdown, Chinese authorities
responded with obfuscation by increasing the safety limits at which the
reactor could operate. Frustrated the French operator reached out to the
international community for technical know-how and equipment to address the
problem, and in memo to the Department of Energy EDF described the
situation at Taishan-1 as ‘an imminent radiological threat to the site
and to the public’.[1]

International pressure finally prevailed and
Taishan-1 was shut-down. The reactor has ever since remained offline whilst
investigations have continued. Information remains hard to come by, but
French nuclear regulators – the ASN or Autorité de sûreté nucléaire
– have revealed that Taishan-1 suffered from two deficiencies which are
unrelated – the failure of springs in the fuel rods and excessive
vibration due to the design of the pressure vessel.

 NFLA 14th June 2022

June 16, 2022 - Posted by | safety, UK

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