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Problems at China’s Taishan nuclear power plant are serious enough to warrant shutdown, French co-owner warns.

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

Problems at China nuclear power plant are serious enough to warrant shutdown, French co-owner warns, By Barbara Wojazer, Zachary Cohen, Michael Callahan and Jessie Yeung, CNN, July 23, 2021   CNN)The French power company that co-owns a nuclear plant in China would shut it down if it could, due to damage to the fuel rods, a spokesperson said — but the decision is ultimately up to the plant’s Chinese operator.

The spokesperson for Electricite de France (EDF) said on Thursday that while it was “not an emergency situation” at the Taishan Nuclear Power Plant, located in China’s southern Guangdong province, it was a “serious situation that is evolving.”If the reactor was in France, the company would have shut it down already due to “the procedures and practices in terms of operating nuclear power plants in France,” the spokesperson said.

The spokesperson did not directly call on China to halt operations at the plant, noting it was a decision for its Chinese partner and majority shareholder in the plant, the China General Nuclear Power Group (CGN).

CNN first reported in June that the French company Framatome — an EDF subsidiary which supports operations at Taishan — had warned of an “imminent radiological threat” at the plant, prompting the United States government to investigate the possibility of a leak.

The company had also accused the Chinese safety authority of raising the acceptable limits for radiation detection outside the plant in order to avoid having to shut it down, according to a letter from Framatome to the US Department of Energy, obtained by CNN…………..On Thursday, the EDF spokesperson reiterated it was detecting an increase in noble gas in a reactor, and that the company had publicly clarified its position to the Chinese plant’s owner and operator, Taishan Nuclear Power Joint Venture Co., Ltd (TNPJVC).

EDF holds a 30% stake in TNPJVC — a joint venture with state-owned China General Nuclear Power Group.”We’ve shared with them all the elements of EDF’s analysis and all the reasons why, in France, we would stop the reactor,” the spokesperson said, “so that they can take the decision that will be necessary as responsible operators.”According to the spokesperson, EDF would have shut down the reactor in order to “avoid further degrading of the fuel rods, and carry out an investigation, and avoid further damage to the industrial facility.”…..   https://edition.cnn.com/2021/07/22/china/edf-taishan-nuclear-plant-china-intl-hnk/index.html

July 24, 2021 Posted by | China, safety | Leave a comment

China threatens Japan with nuclear war over intervention in Taiwan

China threatens Japan with nuclear war over intervention in Taiwan, Business Standard, 23 July 21,

Deputy PM Aso urged dialogue to resolve any issue   The Chinese Communist Party aired a video in which it warned Japan of a nuclear response and “full-scale war” if the island nation interferes in China’s handling of Taiwan, Fox News reported.

The video, which appeared on a channel approved by the CCP, singles out Japan as the one exception to China’s policy to not use nuclear weapons against non-nuclear powers.

“We will use nuclear bombs first,” the video said. “We will use nuclear bombs continuously. We will do this until Japan declares unconditional surrender for the second time.” The video was deleted from Chinese platform Xigua after gaining 2 million views, but copies were uploaded to YouTube and Twitter, Taiwan News reported. Accoding to Fox News,the threats follow comments made two weeks ago by Japanese officials about Taiwan’s sovereignty, with Deputy Prime Minister Taro Aso saying that Japan must “defend Taiwan,” The Japan Times reported……. https://www.business-standard.com/article/international/china-threatens-japan-with-nuclear-war-over-intervention-in-taiwan-121072300030_1.html

July 24, 2021 Posted by | China, politics international, weapons and war | Leave a comment

China to activate molten salt nuclear reactor, but it’s not clear if they have solved its safety problems


China to activate world’s first ‘clean’ nuclear reactor in September

Live Science 23 July 21, Plans include building up to 30 reactors in partnered nations. Chinese government scientists have unveiled plans for a first-of-its-kind, experimental nuclear reactor that does not need water for cooling.

The prototype molten-salt nuclear reactor, which runs on liquid thorium rather than uranium, is expected to be safer than traditional reactors because thorium cools and solidifies quickly when exposed to the air, meaning any potential leak would spill much less radiation into the surrounding environment compared with leaks from traditional reactors. 

The prototype reactor is expected to be completed next month, with the first tests beginning as early as September………………..

The molten-salt reactor concept was first devised back in 1946 as part of a plan by the predecessor to the U.S. Air Force to create a nuclear-powered supersonic jet. 

However, the experiment ran into too many problems, such as corrosion caused by the hot salt and the cracking of pipes, and the project was abandoned in 1954. Since then, several groups have tried to make viable molten-salt reactors, including an experimental reactor at Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Tennessee, but the weak radioactivity of thorium makes it very difficult for fission reactions to build up to sustainable levels without adding uranium. 

It is not yet clear how Chinese researchers have solved these technical problems……..

July 24, 2021 Posted by | China, safety, technology | Leave a comment

After the lab-leak theory, US-Chinese relations head downhill

The United States and China could work together in sharing biosecurity-related samples, genetic materials and data, developing protocols and countermeasures against biosafety accidents, promoting transparency in dual-use research of concern, countering disinformation, and strengthening compliance with global health laws, including the Biological Weapons Convention and the International Health Regulations.

But the US push to investigate the lab leak and the political context in both countries likely puts the goal of finding the origins of COVID-19 and many other ambitions at risk………

After the lab-leak theory, US-Chinese relations head downhill, Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, By Yanzhong Huang | July 16, 2021  In October, 2018, more than a year before the COVID-19 pandemic, dozens of international trainees visited the Wuhan Institute of Virology for an expansive workshop meant to “promote the cooperation between China and other countries in the field of biosafety.” The attendees, many from developing countries, took classes on virus handling and bioethics, they listened to speeches by Chinese and UN arms control officials, and learned from eminent scientists. For the organizers, the 10-day event was a chance to showcase China’s expertise in biosafety management. And for this, they could hardly have chosen a more perfect location, a prestigious virology institute that had just months earlier opened the country’s first state-of-the-art, specialized facility for safely studying the world’s most dangerous pathogens, a biosafety-level (BSL) 4 lab.

The marketing plan hasn’t paid out.

Two years on, the lofty vision the workshop at the advanced Chinese biolab embodied—one of international collaboration on disease control and scientific research—has disintegrated as the United States and China tangle in an increasingly nasty fight over the origins of the still-raging coronavirus pandemic. In the United States, President Joe Biden, prominent scientists, and once-skeptical mainstream media outlets have collectively revived a hypothesis that was initially largely framed as a conspiracy theory, that the COVID-19 virus could have escaped from the Wuhan lab. Meanwhile, in China, many are convinced COVID-19 started somewhere else, outside of the country.

The Wuhan Institute of Virology now sits at the forefront of the US-China row on the origins of a once-in-a-century pandemic.

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July 20, 2021 Posted by | China, politics international, USA | Leave a comment

How Taishan almost became China’s Chernobyl.  

How Taishan almost became China’s Chernobyl.  https://www.spectator.co.uk/article/how-taishan-almost-became-china-s-chernobyl Ian Williams, 4 July 21,

Days after a nuclear power plant began spewing deadly radiation, the ruling Communist party pushed ahead with a huge and self-indulgent celebration of the sort that had become a hallmark of its rule. This was no time for bad news, and the party delayed, dithered and hid the truth about the deadly events that were unfolding.

That was the Chernobyl disaster in 1986. Soviet leaders allowed Kiev’s International Workers’ Day celebrations to go ahead. The participants, meanwhile, were oblivious to events at the stricken reactor just 60 miles away. The images of those May Day celebrations have come to symbolise the party’s criminal dishonesty, and they were nearly echoed after a technical glitch hit the Taishan nuclear power plant in Guangdong province early last month, just weeks before the Chinese Communist party’s centenary.

Thankfully it did not turn into another Chernobyl, but the response of the authorities in China was chillingly reminiscent of those dark days in Ukraine. 


On 16 June, the Chinese government said that there had been an incident with the fuel rods at a nuclear plant, but this information took over a week to get out: a close reminder that authoritarian states repel uncomfortable truths. On 8 June, US authorities were reportedly informed that there was an ‘imminent radiological event’ at the Taishan Nuclear Power Plant in Guangdong Province, just 80 miles from Hong Kong. The Chinese safety authorities were reportedly raising the acceptable limits for radiation detection outside the plant in order to avoid having to shut it down. The French company who part-owned the plant, Framatome, needed to obtain a US waiver to obtain the technical information needed to solve the problem – a problem the Chinese authorities at the time had not even acknowledged existed. 

After reports were broadcast by CNN, Framatome issued a statement saying it was trying to resolve a ‘performance issue’ at the plant, in which it has a 30 per cent stake. The Chinese firm, CGN, refused to comment, though the plant said that everything was ‘normal’. Only on 16 June did the Chinese government inform the International Atomic Energy Authority that there had been an issue with some damaged fuel rods. It described the issue as a common occurrence, which did not trigger safety concerns.

It could have been far worse. The technical details are reassuring, but they were far too slow to come out. Had this been a wholly-owned Chinese plant, we would still be completely in the dark. It is chillingly reminiscent not only of the early days at Chernobyl, but also the beginning of the Covid-19 outbreak. During those early days in Wuhan there was open speculation that Xi Jinping had finally reached his ‘Chernobyl moment’ – the disaster that would hasten the demise of a monolithic communist party.

There is visibly a pattern emerging in China which we have seen in authoritarian regimes before. Bad news is quashed and denied. The Chinese Communist party is secretive by nature, and regards itself as accountable to nobody. This has been exacerbated by Xi Jinping’s concentration of power. Officials are afraid to pass bad news up the food chain, preferring to tell the emperor what he wants to hear. In democracies, bad news travels to the top quickly. In autocracies, less so.

Britain has an especially pressing reason to pay attention to events at the Chinese power plant. The Chinese and French firms are also collaborating on the £22 billion Hinkley Point nuclear plant now under construction in Somerset, which will use the same technology. A second joint project in Suffolk has yet to begin construction. The Chinese firm is also angling to build its own reactor at Bradwell in Essex – the first Chinese-designed plant outside its own borders, with Beijing wanting to widen markets for its nuclear technology.

Allowing the Chinese firm which has close links to the Communist party to play such a crucial role in such a sensitive part of Britain’s most critical infrastructure was always foolhardy. It looks even more so in the light of the CCP’s behaviour at Taishan. The party is so wilfully lacking in transparency that it should never be in charge of a nuclear power plant in its own country, let alone on the coast of Britain. The British government has the power to do something about it. The question is whether it has the will. 

July 5, 2021 Posted by | China, politics | Leave a comment

China’s handling of Taishan nuclear plant leak shows need for transparency

 China’s handling of nuclear plant leak shows need for transparency. For
the Chinese Communist Party, opacity is a virtue and transparency is a
virtue. This approach to governance worked well for the party. 100th
anniversary Established on Thursday.

Unfortunately, it doesn’t work very
well if you run a nuclear power plant in China, especially if you are
partnering with a foreign investor who cannot easily accept the principles
of political parties.

Framatome, a division of China General Nuclear Power
Group and France’s EDF, provided an example of this textbook two weeks
ago when CNN reported that President Joe Biden’s administration was
“evaluating.” [a] Leak was reported At a nuclear facility in China.
“Framatome’s memo to the US Department of Energy dated June 8, and
CNN’s report was released on Monday morning, June 14, China time.

Taishan
Nuclear Power Station seems to have tried to anticipate the report by
issuing a statement on its website on Sunday night, June 13. In a CNN
report. CGN and Taiyama’s approach to the “neither apologize nor
explain” type of situation shook people. A local government official in
Jiangmen, which controls the Taishan plant, told the Financial Times that
the locals were completely in the dark. “The factory says everything is
going well,” officials said. “What can we do without proper explanation
of CNN’s report?”

 FT 29th June 2021

https://www.ft.com/content/1c47d829-34a2-4efd-8c43-f9cdd95b6994

July 1, 2021 Posted by | China, secrets,lies and civil liberties | Leave a comment

EDF will try to minimise the radiological leak at the Taishan nuclear plant – but the damage is done.

 A minor operating incident of a Chinese reactor at the French-designed Taishan NPP, pinned down by CNN. The small world of nuclear power has still not returned from the tortuous journey of this information. Monday, June 14, the American channel released a world scoop by reporting that the French group Framatome warned the American authorities of an “imminent radiological threat” to the Taishan power plant. In the hours that follow,


EDF, a 30% shareholder in the Taishan EPR plant, will specify that this is only a fuel rod leak (supplied by Framatome), confined in the very secure circuit. primary of a reactor. An operating incident under control, a priori without consequences. But the damage is done.

 Le Figaro 24th June 2021

https://www.lefigaro.fr/international/nucleaire-chinois-la-bevue-incroyable-de-framatome-20210624

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June 29, 2021 Posted by | China, incidents | Leave a comment

Russia, China Pledge to Not Use Nuclear Weapons First, Avoid Firing Missiles at Each Other

Russia, China Pledge to Not Use Nuclear Weapons First, Avoid Firing Missiles at Each Other , NewsWeek, BY JENNI FINK ON 6/28/21    Russia and China reaffirmed their friendship treaty amid increasing concerns about their growing relationship and the two countries continued a vow not to fire strategic missiles at each other.

Russia President Vladimir Putin and Chinese President Xi Jinping extended the 20-year Treaty of Good-Neighborliness and Friendly Cooperation, a document Putin credited with taking their relationship to “unprecedented height.” An extension that’s set to last for five years, it outlines that both countries will support each others’ right to defend their “national unity” and territories.

Article 2 has both countries promising to using “peaceful means” to resolve their differences, not the use of force, threat of force or economic pressures.

The contracting parties reaffirm their commitment that they will not be the first to use nuclear weapons against each other nor target strategic nuclear missiles against each other,” the treaty states.

Russia and China have grown closer as their relationships with the United States has deteriorated. Although Putin’s summit with President Joe Biden was seen as a positive step, America and Russia failed to see eye-to-eye on a number of topics, but they agreed to work together on the issue of nuclear weapons.

In a joint statement, the two countries agreed to “embark” on dialogue that would “lay the groundwork” for future arms control and risk reduction measures, acknowledging that “nuclear war cannot be won and must never be fought.”

One of two biggest nuclear powers, Putin’s endorsement of Russia’s nuclear deterrent policy raised concerns. The policy allows him to use nuclear weapons in response to a strike with conventional weapons, or if Russia gets “reliable information” about the launch of an attack against its territory or allies.

The strategy is “purely defensive,” according to General of the Army Valery Gerasimov, chief of the General Staff of the Armed Forces, but he defended Russia’s ability to use nuclear weapons at the Moscow International Security Conference last week…….  https://www.newsweek.com/russia-china-pledge-not-use-nuclear-weapons-first-avoid-firing-missiles-each-other-1604865

June 29, 2021 Posted by | China, politics international, Russia, weapons and war | Leave a comment

China’s plans for a huge nuclear waste bunker


China builds bunker to test whether nuclear waste can be dumped underground, SCMP

Lab more than 500 metres underground in the Gobi Desert will be the world’s largest of its kind
If research there is successful, a long-term underground dump for high-level radioactive waste could be built, helping to address a global problem

China has started building a laboratory deep underground in the Gobi Desert to assess whether it would be a suitable location for a nuclear waste dump, amid moves to expand its nuclear power capacity.

The Beishan Underground Research Laboratory in the northwestern province of Gansu will be used to research long-term storage of high-level radioactive waste. With its deepest level to be built 560 metres (1,837 feet) below ground, it will be the world’s largest lab of its kind, according to the ChinaNuclear Energy Association, which promotes nuclear power.

  • The world has about a quarter of a million tonnes of highly radioactive waste, all kept in “temporary” storage. No country has found a solution for permanent deep geological storage, with public opposition often a factor.
  • China’s attempt to find an answer comes at a time when it plans to build a fleet of new reactors. Disposal of high-level radioactive waste is becoming more critical as it uses more nuclear power and tries to become carbon neutral

……. It is estimated that the lab will cost over 2.7 billion yuan (US$400 million), take seven years to build and operate for 50 years. If research proves the site to be suitable, a long-term underground repository for high-level radioactive waste will be built nearby by 2050, Wang Ju, chief designer of the lab, told state media in April………. https://www.scmp.com/news/china/science/article/3138484/china-builds-bunker-test-whether-nuclear-waste-can-be-dumped

June 24, 2021 Posted by | China, wastes | Leave a comment

China’s Taishan nuclear reactor has 5 damaged fuel rods

 There are likely five damaged fuel rods in the 1,750 MW Taishan-1 EPR in
China, which have led to an increase in radiation levels within the reactor
coolant, the Chinese Ministry of Ecology and Environment said in a
statement June 16, providing the first official explanation for the nuclear
reactor’s recent technical problems.

French power company EDF, a minority
owner of the Taishan plant, said in a statement June 14 that Taishan-1 had
seen an increase in the concentration of radioactive gases in its primary
circuit. The environment ministry added that “at present, the radiation
activity of [Taishan-1’s] reactor circuit coolant … is still within the
scope of allowing stable operation as stipulated in the technical
specifications for the operation of the nuclear power plant.”

The meeting
of technical specifications, which define the licensed operating parameters
or a reactor, and operational safety of the Taishan plant are guaranteed,
the ministry added. It also said the increase in radioactivity in
Taishan-1’s primary circuit is related to fuel-rod damage.

 S&P 16th June 2021

https://www.spglobal.com/platts/en/market-insights/latest-news/electric-power/061621-chinas-taishan-1-reactor-has-five-damaged-fuel-rods-ministry

June 24, 2021 Posted by | China, incidents | Leave a comment

The Taishan death blow

China’s EPR reactor accident should end French reactor projects

The Taishan death blow — Beyond Nuclear International Radioactive leak at Chinese reactor could finish French nuclear exports  https://wordpress.com/read/feeds/72759838/posts/3403922693
By Stéphane Lhomme, Nuclear Observatory

If the opacity maintained by the Chinese regime prevents us, for the time being, from knowing the exact consequences of the radioactive leak involving the EPR no.1 reactor at Taishan, revealed on June 14 by CNN, it is, on the other hand, already possible to see how this unfolded and to recommend some next steps.

The fault in the fuel duct seals inside the Taishan EPR dates back to October 2020, that is to say, it had already been going on for more than eight months: the operators of the reactor — the Chinese and the French company Framatome — were perfectly well aware of the gravity of the situation and had jointly decided to hide the existence of the problem from not only the surrounding population but also from the International Atomic Energy Agency.

Luckily, the information ended up seeping out via the American subsidiary of Framatome (Areva NP Inc.). This latter, likely after discussions with the CIA and the White House, happily informed CNN.

Indeed, now that the situation at the EPR at Taishan is known around the world, it will be difficult for the Chinese to continue to operate the reactor under conditions that are most likely beyond its “scope of authorized operational safety” — contrary to what Framatome claims in order not to offend the Chinese.

It is widely known publicly that China and the USA, the two biggest global powers, are huge geopolitical and economic rivals. It is clear that if the Taishan 1 EPR, and perhaps its twin, Taishan 2, must be shut down for an extended period, this will be an inconvenience for China, which occasionally lacks electricity in this region. Hence the guilty pleasure felt by the Americans in revealing the problem. 

But this will still remain only a limited problem for China where, contrary to what one sometimes reads or hears, nuclear power is a marginal energy source, consisting of less than 1% of the country’s energy consumption.

On the other hand, it is quite possible that the French nuclear industry will be the big loser in this affair, one that could represent a fatal blow for EDF’s EPR construction projects in France and overseas. Indeed, given that the EPR construction sites managed by the French — Areva in Finland, EDF in France and Great Britain — are veritable industrial and financial disasters, the promoters of the EPR reactor have been desperately clinging to the “good Chinese example”.

That is because the two EPRs at Taishan were built and brought on line (in December 2018 and September 2019 respectively) with “only” a few years delay and the cost overruns were officially limited to a few billion (according to China which, one must remember, is a dictatorship where “information” is totally controlled).


The situation currently unfolding in China demonstrates that, despite the alleged prowess of the Chinese nucleocrats, the Taishan EPRs are not going any better than those the French are trying desperately to build. This event will certainly sow enormous doubt among the few foreign leaders who are still considering ordering EPR reactors, despite all their setbacks. It is surely the straw that broke the camel’s back, or rather the radioactive leak that caused the (defective) EPR containment to overflow.

Likewise, this incident should motivate French political leaders (but also Finnish and British ones) to finally take responsibility and definitively halt EPR construction at Olkiluoto (Finland), Flamanville (France) and Hinkley Point (Great Britain), and to stop announcing future EPR projects in India and elsewhere.

June 22, 2021 Posted by | China, safety | Leave a comment

Safety concerns on Taishan reactor, but China wants to be world’s nuclear leader by 2050


China’s nuclear safety queried over Taishan reactor, but it wants to lead world by 2050 
SCMP,       Stephen Chen in Beijing, 21 June 21

  • Road map drawn up by the country’s nuclear experts sets series of goals to help it catch up with the West on safety
  • Increase in radioactivity in Taishan did not spread outside reactor, data showed, but Chinese nuclear industry trails in software and hardware

China aims to become a dominant player in the world nuclear market in less than 30 years and have the highest safety standards and lowest costs, a government advisory body has said.

For decades, China tried to catch up with safety standards in Western countries, led by the United States and France. But now China plans to challenge them, the Chinese Academy of Engineering (CAE) said in a report published last Tuesday…….

by 2050, the road map describes China leading the setting of new industry standards for global nuclear power and taking “a bigger share in the international market”.

The increase in radioactivity in Taishan was caused by leaking fuel rods known as “leakers”       

They are still used by many nuclear power plants globally, but the US had by 2013 eradicated them from more than 90 per cent of its reactors, …….

The Taishan radioactivity was viewed in some quarters as an environmental threat that the Chinese government had tried to cover up.

China’s National Nuclear Safety Administration had posted the event on its website on April 7, but the scientists who produced the road map admitted that the country’s nuclear safety was not yet up to the standards in the West, even if its nuclear reactors had no safety incidents in the past three decades.

Safety improvements require cutting-edge technology such as computer programs simulating the operation of a reactor, and materials to make critical components. The Chinese nuclear industry is behind in both software and hardware, according to the report.

Chinese nuclear power companies have produced numerous software products for nuclear plant design, operation and safety evaluation, but did so in isolation, and their reliability and modelling of serious accidents had room for improvement, said senior nuclear safety scientist Huang Hongwen in the report commissioned by the CAE.

China has also been dependent on Western suppliers of some hardware components critical to safe operation of nuclear plants, according to the report.

“Some of our high-precision nuclear safety equipment is still in the hands of others,” Huang wrote.

The US government imposed a sanction – which remains in place – on the Chinese nuclear power industry in 2019, banning the sale of any nuclear-related technology or goods to China except in the event of an immediate environmental threat such as radioactive leakage. The US government said it was investigating the Taishan event………….

 Wang Junhao, president of Zhejiang University of Finance and Economics, wrote in the journal Economic Theory and Business Management in April that the penalties for safety lapses were too light to act as a deterrent.


“When a hidden safety hazard was discovered by regulatory inspections, the financial loss was too small,” Wang said. “There must be greater punishments.” https://www.scmp.com/news/china/science/article/3138214/chinas-nuclear-safety-queried-over-taishan-reactor-it-wants-lead

June 22, 2021 Posted by | China, politics, safety | Leave a comment

What actually happened at Taishan?

What actually happened at Taishan? https://www.rnanews.eu/what-actually-happened-at-taishan-nfla-call-on-nuclear-regulator-to-carefully-investigate-possible-r-140634.html?fbclid=IwAR2W5hoUwNH-6fgYOgVv6LIbM4wVWPGA1cLA4i8_XAC0PPIpz4odlGmSTcI   NFLA call on nuclear regulator to carefully investigate possible radioactive leak and its implications for Hinkley C & Sizewell C | NFLA, 16 June 21,

The UK & Ireland Nuclear Free Local Authorities (NFLA) is concerned to read many contradictory reports over what has been called a ‘radioactive leak’ by some and ‘performance issues’ by others at the Taishan nuclear plant some 100kms from Hong Kong in the Guangdong region of China. NFLA has written to the UK nuclear regulatory, the Office for Nuclear Regulation (ONR), to ask it to investigate this matter with real urgency in terms of the implications for similar reactors being considered for the UK.

The Taishan plants developed in China use the same EPR (European Pressurised Reactors) technology being planned for the Hinkley Point C plant in Somerset and currently being considered in a public inquiry at Sizewell C in Suffolk.

Taishan is a prestige EPR project built after China signed a nuclear electricity generation agreement with ÉDF. Construction started in 2009, and the two units started generating electricity in 2018 and 2019, respectively. It is 70% owned by CGN, and 30% by Framatome, a subsidiary of EDF.

This incident came to light following an investigation by CNN, and it appears to have been going on for some considerable time. 

According to the CNN investigation, in late May, one of the EPR reactors started venting radioactive gases – it is not known precisely why or when. The CNN article mentions possible fuel failures, and this is a possibility. It appears the Chinese nuclear regulator and the Chinese Government reacted by proposing to increase the safety limits for residents downwind in order to keep the reactor operating, and they told Framatome of this intention. Framatome objected to such an action and said China should instead shut down the reactor to find out what had gone wrong. The response from Chinese authorities was negative to this suggestion. As a result, Framatome (unusually) submitted an operational safety assistance request to the US Government on June 3rd, formally asking for a ‘legal waiver’ that would allow them to address an urgent nuclear safety matter. This was sent to the US Department of Energy (DOE), warning their officials that the nuclear reactor was leaking fission gas.

On June 8th, EDF asked the US DOE for an expedited review of their request, according to a memo obtained by CNN. “The situation is an imminent radiological threat to the site and to the public and Framatome urgently requests permission to transfer technical data and assistance as may be necessary to return the plant to normal operation” read the memo. Framatome reached out to the US government for assistance, the document indicates, because the Chinese government agency was continuing to increase its limits on the amount of radioactive gas that could safely be released from the facility without shutting it down, according to the documents reviewed by CNN.

Since this report came out, EDF and the Chinese authorities have tried to downplay that any serious incident took place, suggesting these matters were merely “performance issues” within safely levels. It should be noted though that an extraordinary board meeting has been requested by Framatome with its Chinese partners to discuss the matter. (2)

NFLA believe some kind of safety incident could well have taken place at the Taishan reactor, and sincerely hopes that it has not been anything approaching a major nuclear incident. The reaction of the Chinese nuclear regulator is of real concern to us, as is the large level of confusion that has clearly taken place over this incident.

NFLA has written to the UK Chief Nuclear Inspector asking for the Office of Nuclear Regulation to investigate this incident as part of the nuclear regulators’ Multinational Design Evaluation Programme, which includes a working group on the EPR that focuses on reviewing lessons learnt from commissioning, construction and early phase operations. Any concern that comes from this incident needs to be learnt quickly given the development of a similar reactor at Hinkley Point and a proposed reactor at Sizewell. For NFLA, this incident only goes to confirm its concern that the EPR reactor is highly complex and difficult to build, and safety issues could well remain within it.

NFLA Steering Committee Chair Councillor David Blackburn said:

“The murky details of what has actually happened to one of the Taishan Chinese EPR reactors in this incident is indicative of the lack of transparency that remains in the global nuclear industry. It also shows the real communication problems that can occur between in this case the French and Chinese nuclear companies and regulators. I hope this has not been a serious incident, but the detail initially provided to CNN suggests something has gone wrong and needs to be carefully considered in terms of its impact on this new nuclear reactor. It confirms to NFLA that there remain so many inherent issues in new nuclear that it would be far better to pursue instead safer, cheaper, more easily realisable and radioactive waste-free renewable energy alternatives.”

Ends – for more information please contact Sean Morris, NFLA Secretary, on 07771 930196.

June 17, 2021 Posted by | China, incidents | Leave a comment

French nuclear company and Chinese government once again have a problem with their much vaunted EPR nuclear reactor design

Nuclear reactor problem a new headache for designer and China. Bangkok Post,    16 June 21, PARIS – The emergence of problems in a new-generation nuclear reactor in China threatens to undermine efforts by its French designer to sell it elsewhere, and could hurt Beijing’s nuclear industry, analysts said.

French energy giant EDF and the Chinese government have sought to ease concerns about a gas build-up at the Taishan Nuclear Power Plant after a CNN report of a potential leak at the site.

The Chinese foreign ministry said Tuesday that radiation levels remained normal at the site in southern Guangdong province and there were no safety concerns.

But it is the latest snag to hit EDF’s much-vaunted EPR reactor.

The Taishan power station became in 2018 the first site worldwide to use the pressurised water design, which has been subject to years of delays in similar projects in Britain, France and Finland.

A second EPR reactor was launched at Taishan a year later. The facility is partly owned by EDF along with state-owned China General Nuclear Power Group, the majority stakeholder and operator of the plant.

EDF said the plant’s number one reactor experienced a build-up of gases in part of the cooling system following the deterioration of the coating on some uranium fuel rods.

The French company was first informed about the problem with the fuel rods in October, but only learned about the gas build-up on Saturday, according to EDF.

The problem and the silence of Chinese authorities triggered criticism of EDF, whose EPR reactor is supposed to be safer, last longer and produce more electricity than previous versions.

– EDF seeks contracts –

It seems that both the Chinese nuclear regulators and the French nuclear corporations may have acted in bad faith,” said Paul Dorfman, a researcher at the University College London’s Energy Institute.

“If so, this new EPR debacle should have important consequences for any further plans for new EPR builds in France, the UK, and internationally,” he added…….

The Taishan incident comes as EDF, which is currently struggling to finish the Flamanville EPR in France after more than a dozen years of work, is hoping to win new contracts.

France, which must eventually decide whether to renew its park of ageing nuclear reactors, is holding off on making a decision until Flamanville comes online, which is now expected in late-2022 at best………. https://www.bangkokpost.com/world/2133307/nuclear-reactor-problem-a-new-headache-for-designer-and-china

June 17, 2021 Posted by | China, France, marketing | Leave a comment

Is the leak in a nuclear reactor in China due to a Framatome manufacturing defect ?

Is the leak in a nuclear reactor in China due to a manufacturing defect in
the Drôme? The nuclear rods for reactor n ° 1 in Taishan, China, are
manufactured by the Framatome site in Romans-sur-Isère. One of the
hypotheses considered to explain the leak in the circuit could be a
manufacturing defect.

It is difficult to know for the moment what caused
the leak within the reactor n ° 1 of the EPR of Taishan, in China. In
recent months, “rare gases” have been identified in the primary circuit
after the degradation of a few rods containing the uranium pellets. These
pencils are made in Romans-sur-Isère, on the Framatome site.

 France Bleu 16th June 2021

https://www.francebleu.fr/infos/sante-sciences/la-fuite-dans-un-reacteur-nucleaire-en-chine-est-elle-due-a-un-defaut-de-fabrication-dans-la-drome-1623784195

June 17, 2021 Posted by | China, France, incidents | Leave a comment