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EDF says it would shut down the Taishan reactor if it was in France

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EDF, the French nuclear operator, said it would shut down a reactor under investigation for a potential fuel rod problem in southern China if the facility were to be located in France, but that the decision to continue operating the plant in its Chinese joint venture was beyond its control.

The Taishan nuclear power plant, which is majority controlled and operated by China General Nuclear Power Corp with EDF holding a 30% stake, held a special board meeting on Thursday to review the latest data following the month’s problem reports. last.

“On the basis of the analyzes carried out, EDF’s operating methods for the French nuclear fleet would lead EDF, in France, to shut down the reactor in order to accurately assess the current situation and stop its development,” said EDF. in a press release. following the meeting

“In Taishan, the corresponding decisions belong to TNPJVC [Taishan Nuclear Power Joint Venture Co.]. “

EDF said last month that an accumulation of nobles [or inert] the gases at Taishan appeared to have arisen due to problems with the casing around some of the fuel rods, the first of three reactor containment barriers.

The company said Thursday it was cleared to analyze data related to the “detection of unsealed assembly rods in Reactor No.1 at the Taishan plant.”

EDF said data made available by CGN suggested that “radiochemical parameters” were still below regulatory thresholds in China which are “consistent with international practice”. However, he added that the situation is “evolving”.

The French company sought to minimize the problem after a first CNN report in June suggested the risk of a radiation leak. The company said a leak outside the facility was not a danger and that the build-up of noble gases had been contained.

An EDF spokesperson told the FT on Thursday that the main concern was to start maintenance to fix the problem as soon as possible.

“We want to prevent the fuel rods from deteriorating further, to conduct investigations to understand why the fuel rods have lost their seals, and we want the necessary maintenance to be as simple as possible,” the spokesperson said.

“This is not an emergency or an incident. It is a situation, which is covered by operational procedures, which is known and understood.

Taishan is the world’s first nuclear power plant to operate a European pressurized reactor, a Franco-German technology that for two decades was hampered by delays and cost overruns.

The first reactor at the Taishan plant began commercial operations in December 2018, and its second reactor entered service in September 2019.

CGN and EDF are also collaborating on an EPR nuclear power plant in the United Kingdom, under construction at Hinkley Point in Somerset.

Citing unidentified sources and documents, CNN reported last month that Framatome, a unit of EDF, had informed the US government of a potential “imminent radiological threat to the [Taishan] site and to the public ”.

The network said in June that President Joe Biden’s National Security Council was monitoring the situation but did not yet believe a “crisis level” had been reached.

Nuclear power in China is at the heart of President Xi Jinping’s ambitious environmental goals, which include achieving zero net carbon dioxide emissions by 2060. About 50 nuclear reactors are operating in China, accounting for about 5% of the total electricity production.

CGN did not respond to requests for comment outside of regular business hours on Thursday.

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