July 26, 2021

Incident at an EPR nuclear reactor in southern China

This is a new blow for the EPR, the latest generation of nuclear power plant developed by the French industry. The importance of this is not yet known, but a “Leak” recently occurred in one of the two reactors at the Taishan nuclear power plant in southern China, the American television station CNN revealed on Monday (June 14th). EDF evokes a “Increase in the concentration of” rare gases “in the primary circuit”, which is located in the double concrete enclosure enclosing the boiler. An incident serious enough to cause concern among the American authorities. For its part, the French government was warned Thursday, June 10, and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs took up the case, we know in Paris.

The Chinese EPR plant continued to operate, to the astonishment of French experts

It was the American subsidiary of Framatome (ex-Areva NP) which alerted the American authorities of a “Imminent radiological threat”, according to U.S. officials and documents viewed by CNN. The Chinese safety authority would have pushed back the acceptable limits for the detection of radiation outside the plant to avoid its shutdown, according to a letter from Framatome to the US Department of Energy. The Chinese EPR plant continued to operate, to the astonishment of French experts.

The Biden administration estimated that the facility had not yet reached a “Crisis level” for the central agents and for the population, one of the sources told the television station. The situation was nevertheless deemed sufficiently serious to justify, last week, the holding of several meetings of the United States National Security Council at high levels. Discussions also took place with the French and Chinese authorities.

In a statement on Monday, June 14, Framatome said that “Based on the information available, the unit is within its authorized operating and safety domain” and that she “Provides support for the analysis of the evolution of one of the plant’s operating parameters”. The expertise of the American subsidiary of the manufacturer of nuclear boilers is obviously necessary, which explains why the United States government has been put in the loop. Framatome teams “Work with the experts concerned to monitor and assess the situation, and if necessary, propose solutions”, specifies the company.

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