China says no leak at nuclear plant, no change to detection standards

The Ministry of Ecology and Environment says increase in radiation levels within the parameters for safe operations

Reuters June 16, 2021
An artist impression of Taishan Nuclear Power Plant, to be operated by China Guangdong Nuclear Power (CGN), is displayed on a viewing platform overlooking the construction site in Taishan, Guangdong province, October 17, 2013. PHOTO: REUTERS


China said on Wednesday that there was no radiation leak at the Taishan nuclear power station and it had not raised acceptable limits for radiation levels around the plant, responding to a CNN report earlier this week.

CNN reported on Monday that Framatome, the French company which designed the plant, had warned China's National Nuclear Safety Administration (NNSA) had raised acceptable radiation limits outside the plant in the southeastern province of Guangdong to avoid having to shut it down.

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The Ministry of Ecology and Environment said on Wednesday an increase in radiation levels had been detected in the primary circuit at Taishan's Unit 1 reactor, but they were within the parameters for safe operations.

The higher radioactivity level was caused by damage to a small number of fuel rods, which is usual during production, transportation and loading of the fuel, the ministry said on its Wechat social media account.

"Environmental monitoring in the vicinity of the Taishan plant found no abnormal parameters ... showing no leak has occurred at all," it said.

About five out of more than 60,000 fuel rods at the Unit 1 reactor were estimated to have been damaged, or less than 0.01%, far below a designed allowance of 0.25%, it said.

It said the NNSA had approved radiation limits for noble gases inside the reactor coolant, but this had nothing to do with the detection of radiation outside the plant, adding that "the idea in the CNN report was erroneous."

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The ministry said it will continue to closely monitor radioactivity levels at the Unit 1 reactor and would also maintain communications with the International Atomic Energy Agency as well as France's nuclear safety watchdog.

The Taishan project, completed in 2019, consists of two French-designed reactors, and is located around 200 km (124 miles) from Hong Kong.

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