China will shut down Taishan nuclear reactor after fuel damage

Nuclear Energy Update

After French nuclear operator EDF publicly recommended the shutdown of nuclear reactors last week, China is investigating potential fuel rod problems and shutting down a nuclear reactor in the south of the country for “maintenance”.

When there was a report last month that a possible leak at the Taishan Power Station, the Chinese authorities ruled out any danger from the power station, which is operated by China General Nuclear Power Group (CGN).

But in one statement Last Friday, China General Nuclear Power stated that the nuclear power plant “decided to shut down the No. 1 reactor for maintenance in order to find out the cause of the damage affecting the fuel and replace the damaged fuel.”

China General Nuclear Power said that although there was a small amount of fuel damage, the reactor could have continued to operate safely within the allowable range, adding that this decision was made after “full communication between Chinese and French technical personnel.”

Both CGN and EDF, which holds a 30% stake in the joint venture, tried to downplay the severity of the problem. CNN reported in June that Risk of radiation leakage.

EDF said last week that if the facility is located in France, it will shut down the new European Pressurized Reactor (EPR) to “accurately assess the ongoing situation and halt its development,” although it said the decision was beyond its control.

Taishan is the world’s first nuclear power plant to run EPR. This is a French-German technology that has been plagued by delays and cost overruns for two decades. The technology first started operation in Taishan, western Hong Kong in December 2018, with the aim of enhancing power and safety.

CGN and EDF are also cooperating to build an EPR nuclear power plant in the UK, which is under construction Hinkley Point In Somerset.

EDF said on Friday that it is taking note of China General Nuclear Power’s decision and that the company “still mobilized to provide expertise in shutting down the reactor.”

The French company said last week that it could not estimate how long it would take to resolve the reactor problem, and said it depends on the results of the analysis.

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The French nuclear power operator said last month that an accumulation of inert or noble gas appeared to have occurred in the main water circuit of the Taishan reactor due to problems with the shell surrounding some fuel rods. The company stated that there is no risk of leakage from the facility and the accumulation of inert gas has been controlled.

CNN reported monthly that Framatome, a subsidiary of EDF, has notified the US government of a potential “imminent radiological threat.” [Taishan] Website and the public”, citing unspecified documents.

The network said that Joe Biden’s National Security Council is investigating the incident, but does not believe that the incident has reached a “crisis level.”

Nuclear power accounts for about 5% of China’s total power generation. It is the core of President Xi Jinping’s plan to tackle global warming. He has set about achieving net zero carbon dioxide emissions by 2060.

Additional reporting by Primrose Riordan in Hong Kong

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