China says no leak at nuclear power plant

Min Zhang, Muyu Xu and Dominique PattonAAP
Higher radioactivity at China's Taishan nuclear plant was caused by damage to a number of fuel rods.
Camera IconHigher radioactivity at China's Taishan nuclear plant was caused by damage to a number of fuel rods. Credit: AP

China says there was no radiation leak at the Taishan nuclear power station and it has 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.

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 per cent, far below a designed allowance of 0.25 per cent, 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.”

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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