The Taishan Nuclear Power Plant in China – An “Imminent Nuclear Threat?”

Faye Higbee
taishan nuclear power plant

China’s history of lying about nearly everything going on in their country may be a serious hazard in regard to a possible “imminent nuclear threat” at the Taishan Nuclear Power Plant in Guandong Province. The French Company involved in the project, Framatome, sounded the alarm due to a possible gas leak at the plant and requested US help.

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Nothing to see here

China issued a statement that said there is no leak at the plant – that all radiation levels were normal.

“There is nothing abnormal detected in the radiation level surrounding the plant.”

Zhao Lijian, spokesperson for the Foreign Ministry

But Framatome, the French company that manages the plant, issued two memos, one on June 3 and on June 8, urgently asking the Biden administration for help with a “imminent nuclear threat” at the Taishan Nuclear Power Plant. Why would a French company want US help with a Chinese nuclear reactor? Because some of the technology involved in the plant may have come from a US company like Westinghouse. Nuclear technology is heavily regulated and there are export restrictions that require a waiver.

Framatome had reached out to the US in order to obtain a waiver that would allow them to share American technical assistance in order to resolve the issue at the Chinese plant. There are only two reasons why this waiver would be granted, and one is an “imminent radiological threat,” the same verbiage used in the June 8 memo.

Framatome reached out to the US government for assistance, the document indicates, because a Chinese government agency was continuing to increase its limits on the amount of gas that could safely be released from the facility without shutting it down, according to the documents reviewed by CNN. When asked by CNN for comment, the Energy Department did not directly address the memo’s claim that China was raising the limits.

In the June 8 memo, Framatome informed DOE the Chinese safety authority has continued to raise regulatory “off-site dose limits.” It also says the company suspects that limit might be increased again as to keep the leaking reactor running despite safety concerns for the surrounding population.

Daily Wire/CNN

The Hong Kong observatory that monitors the plant said on Tuesday that the radiation levels were normal. Framatome stated that they were dealing with a “performance issue,” but that the Taishan nuclear power plant was “operating within safe limits.”

What’s happening?

The first Framatome memo was sent to the DOE on June 3, the next on June 8. The French Company is part owner of the facility, along with the Chinese government. The US government stated that it didn’t think there was a crisis at this time, but are continuing to assess the situation. Framatome is owned by Electricite de France (EDF).

Electricite de France said Monday it was informed of the increase in concentration of “certain noble gases” in Taishan reactor No. 1.

That suggests fuel rods are leaking gases produced during nuclear fission, according to Luk Bing-lam, an expert on nuclear engineering at the City University of Hong Kong.

Noble gases such as xenon and krypton are byproducts of fission along with particles of cesium, strontium and other radioactive elements.

“If the leakage is more severe, then you will start seeing more radioactive material like cesium, rather than gas,” said Luk, who is chairman of the Hong Kong Nuclear Society.

Such leaks “happen every so often” in China and plants “usually can handle it themselves,” Luk said. But he said this incident might be complicated if the Taishan plant uses U.S. technology that is covered by export restrictions.

AP
Screenshot – Inside the Taishan Nuclear Power Plant

Another nuclear scientist stated:

“If they do have a gas leak, that indicates some of their containment is broken. It also argues that maybe some of the fuel elements could be broken, which would be a more serious problem. That would be a reason for shutting down the reactor and would then require the reactor to be refueled.”

Cheryl Rofer, a nuclear scientist who retired from Los Alamos National Laboratory in 2001 (via Daily Wire)

There are a lot of “ifs” and “possibilities” in this article, and if the “possible leak” remains small, it is likely that this will be the end of the story. China is not transparent and nations, along with their politicians, fall all over themselves to protect them.

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Featured photo: screenshot of the Taishan Nuclear Power plant

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