China has shut down a reactor at Taishan Nuclear Power in the southern Guangdong province to repair fuel rod damage, China General Nuclear Power Corporation (CGN), the operator of the plant, announced on Friday( Jul 30)
The decision came one week after French energy conglomerate Électricité de France (EDF), which owns 30 per cent of the plant, suggested a shutdown of the reactor was necessary.
"Taishan Nuclear Power Plant decided to shut down Unit 1 for maintenance, after extensive consultation between French and Chinese technical personnel," CGN said in an online statement, adding that "a small amount of fuel damage" occurred during the operation of the reactor.
In June, several reports emerged that Framatome, the French subsidiary of EDF, responsible for maintaining the Taishan nuclear power plant, had warned of an “imminent radiological threat” amid concerns that the local safety authorities were raising the limits of acceptable radiation levels outside the plant to avoid shutting it down.
Framatome reportedly sought the help of US Department of Energy for help to fix a gas leak at the plant.
National Nuclear Safety Administration (NNSA), China's nuclear regulator, however dismissed the reports as alarmist stating that less than 0.01 per cent of fuel rods are damaged. NNSA also denied CNN report that it raised permitted radiation levels near site, saying it had only changed the limit for inert gases.
Taishan Nuclear Power plant currently consists of two 1,750-megawatt Evolutionary Power Reactors (EPRs). The nuclear plant was jointly invested, constructed and operated by CGN and French energy conglomerate EDF
While Framatome, a subsidiary of EDF, owns 30 per cent of the Taishan plant, the rest is held by state-owned CGN.
The plant was opened in Dec 2019 when one of the reactors entered into commercial operation, while the second one started commercial operation in Sep 2019.
China has 47 nuclear plants with a total generation capacity of 48.75 million kilowatts -- the world's third highest after the United States and France -- and has invested billions of dollars to develop its nuclear energy sector.
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