The Taishan Nuclear Power Plant, about 130 kilometers away from Hong Kong, was accused of a nuclear radiation leakage accident. One of the shareholders of the nuclear power plant, EDF confirmed that the concentration of rare gases at the Taishan Nuclear Power Plant has increased, releasing the rare gases xenon and krypton (see alsoPress), Reuters quoted a spokesperson for France Telecom, suspecting that the fuel rods and sealing were faulty. However, whether the incident was a radioactive leak, the French Telegraph has not explained in detail. The Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs emphasized that the radiation environment around the nuclear power plant has not been abnormal and that “safety is guaranteed.” As for the Hong Kong Security Bureau’s press release tonight (15th), the National Nuclear Safety Administration has determined that the Taishan Nuclear Power Station is currently in a safe state and there is no radioactive leakage to the environment.
What is leaking from the Taishan Nuclear Power Plant?
Électricité de France (EDF), which owns a 30% stake in Taishan Nuclear Power Plant, confirmed that the concentration of rare gases in Taishan Nuclear Power Plant has increased, releasing two rare gases, Xenon and Krypton.ReutersThe spokesperson of France Telecom was quoted as pointing out that it is suspected that there is a problem with the fuel rods and the seal. France Electric pointed out that it has contacted the team of the Taishan Nuclear Power Joint Venture Company and is providing professional knowledge. The company also requested a special board meeting with China General Nuclear Power Group, which operates nuclear power plants, and the management provides all the data and necessary decisions, but it did not mention whether the Chinese side agreed to convene a meeting.
France Electric pointed out that Xenon and Krypton were released from the main pressurized water circuit of the Taishan No. 1 reactor, both of which are the “sheath” of the fuel assembly. Rare gases are relatively stable and are often used in nuclear reactions to avoid chemical reactions. Reuters quoted a spokesperson for France Telecom as saying that the rare gas released was below the standard allowed by the Chinese government. It also said that it is still too early to judge whether the reactor should be shut down.
“Le Monde” report quoted Karine Herviou, deputy director of the French Institute of Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety (IRSN). The accident may be related to manufacturing defects in the sheath, or moving objects, such as loose screws. (See alsoPress）
According to an earlier report by CNN, France Telecom confirmed that the leak only occurred on the first layer of the 3-layer isolation barrier, and admitted that it had discovered a sealing problem before restarting after replacing the uranium chip fuel embedded in the metal sheath in October 2020.
How does the Chinese official account for the incident?
At a regular press conference today, the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs stated that China attaches great importance to nuclear safety. So far, China’s nuclear power plants have maintained a good operating record, and there have been no incidents affecting the environment and public health. The radiation environment around the Taishan nuclear power plant has not been abnormal and safe. Guaranteed. (Total coverage）
CGN’s statement only stated that continuous monitoring of environmental data showed that the environmental indicators of Taishan Nuclear Power Plant and its surroundings were normal, and it did not directly acknowledge the occurrence of the accident or any details of the accident.
As for the CNN report, the upper limit of the passing standard for radiation detection outside nuclear power plants has been raised to avoid shutdown of the Taishan nuclear power plant. China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and China General Nuclear Power did not respond.As for the Chinese Internet media, they published articles describing the incident as “spreading rumors” (see alsoPress）。
A spokesman for the Security Bureau said today (15th) that the Security Bureau contacted the relevant Mainland ministries and commissions regarding the incident yesterday (14th) and today. It was learned from the National Nuclear Safety Administration that the Taishan Nuclear Power Plant is currently in a safe state and it was determined that it did not cause any damage to the environment. Radioactive leakage has no impact on the environment. Taishan Nuclear Power Joint Venture Co., Ltd. also stated that according to the current continuous monitoring environmental data, the environmental indicators of Taishan Nuclear Power Plant and its surroundings are normal.
Will leakage affect health?
Hong Kong readers should be most concerned about whether the leak affects their health. Taiwanese nuclear expert Liao Yanpeng replied to the “Stance News” that the detection of these two gases means that the reactor should be repaired, but it is not known whether the reactor emits radiation or not. “If there is no (nuclear radiation) dose information, it is just empty talk.” . He added that the prerequisite for achieving a level 1 international nuclear event is that the annual dose of environmental exposure exceeds 1mSv.
In addition, Liang Rongwu, former assistant director of the Observatory, one of the members of the Guangdong Nuclear Power Plant Nuclear Safety Advisory Committee, pointed out that the Taishan Nuclear Power Plant is far from Hong Kong and limited by the wind direction and geographical location. Even if there is a leakage, the impact on Hong Kong will be limited. He said that nuclear power plants around the world continue to release xenon and krypton, and the question is whether they are released in an orderly manner, or whether they were released in the Fukushima nuclear accident.
He also believes that the current lack of data makes it difficult to judge the health impact of the leak at this time. As for the fact that France Telecom has issued a statement that it will hold a special meeting of the board of directors on the incident, Liang Rongwu believes that it is necessary to have an agenda to know what the meeting wants to discuss.
According to the radiation monitoring of the Hong Kong Observatory, the daily dose on Monday (15th) was maintained at 0.14 microsievert or below, and there was no abnormality for the time being.
What technology does Taishan Nuclear Power Plant use?
Taishan Nuclear Power Plant is a large-scale Sino-French nuclear power plant. It is jointly invested and established by China General Nuclear Power Group and EDF, and is owned by the joint venture Taishan Nuclear Power Joint Venture Co., Ltd. of which China General Nuclear Power Group owns 70% and France Power companies account for 30%, and Framatome, a subsidiary of the latter, is responsible for the design of nuclear power plants and provide reactor technical support.
The gas-releasing Taishan No. 1 reactor is the first European pressurized water reactor (EPR) series to put into use the third-generation pressurized water reactor design reactor. The EPR is currently mainly designed and developed by Framatome and EPR. The second generation reactor has higher thermal efficiency, passive nuclear safety system, and standardized design, thereby reducing maintenance and investment costs.
However, in 2015, France Telecom admitted that it had encountered major difficulties in constructing the EPR design. Currently, only Taishan No. 1 and No. 2 EPR reactors are in operation in the world. EPR production in France, the UK and Iceland have all been delayed due to cost issues. In addition, France, India and the United Kingdom have also confirmed that they will build multiple EPRs.
What is the role of the United States in the incident?
This incident was first disclosed by the American media CNN. According to CNN media, Framatome, a supplier of nuclear energy products under French Power, warned that the Taishan Nuclear Power Plant faces an “imminent radiological threat” and asked the U.S. Department of Energy for help. Since China General Nuclear Power was included in the trade blacklist by the United States earlier, in other words, it has a business in the United States and requires approval from the United States before it can provide technical support to China General Nuclear Power.