Chinese nuclear power plant investigating 'increase of gases' at reactor

A Chinese nuclear power plant is investigating an abnormally high concentration of gases in one of its reactors, one of its owners said on Monday.

Reactor 1 of the giant Taishan power plant in Guandong Province north of Hong Kong experienced an “increase in the concentration of certain noble gases in the primary cycle,” according to the giant French energy company EDF, which holds 30 percent of the shares. the parent company of the plant.

“The presence of certain noble gases in the primary circuit is a well-known phenomenon that has been studied and foreseen by reactor operating procedures,” EDF said in Declaration on his website.

However, the company continues to call for an extraordinary meeting of shareholders in the Taishan Nuclear Power joint venture to determine the next steps for the facility.

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Framatome, a French company owned by EDF that partially operates the facility, said in an online statement: “The facility operates within safety parameters. Our team works with relevant experts to assess the situation and propose solutions to potential problems. “.”

Opened in 2018 after almost 10 years of development, the facility was the first in the world to use a third generation Evolutionary Power Reactor (EPR), which is now used in plants in France and the UK.

Nuclear power is seen as a key element of China’s dizzying industrial and economic growth.

China Guangdong Nuclear Power Group, which owns 70 percent of the facility, said in a statement that the facility’s two reactors were operating safely.

“Currently, regular monitoring data shows that the Taishan station and its surroundings are within normal parameters,” the statement said, according to a translation by Reuters.

The International Atomic Energy Agency replied by email that it had received “no evidence of a radiological incident” in Taishan. The agency said it was in contact with its Chinese counterpart about the incident.

Neither the Chinese State Department nor the US National Security Council immediately responded to a request for comment.

Nuclear safety experts voiced fears as early as 2009, shortly after Taishan’s commissioning, that China’s stormy leap into nuclear energy could lead to safety cuts.

The project to build Taishan was so large that its area was the size of 245 soccer fields, according to the company’s website. At least 5,600 workers were on the site every day at peak times, using 3 million tons of concrete and 230,000 tons of reinforced steel bars, as much as it takes to build a railroad from London to Rome.

China has 50 nuclear reactors in use and another 18 under construction, according to the World Nuclear Association. In contrast, the United States has 93 nuclear reactors in operation, but only two in production, and they have shut down 40.

Nancy Ing contributed.

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