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

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French nuclear operator EDF said it would shut down a reactor in southern China that was being investigated for a potential fuel pipe problem if the facility was in France, but that the decision to continue to operate the joint venture was out of his control.

The Taishan nuclear power plant, which is majority-controlled and operated by China General Nuclear Power Corp., with EDF holding a 30 percent stake, held an extraordinary board meeting Thursday to review the latest data following reports of problems last month.

“Based on the analysis carried out, EDF’s operational procedures for the French nuclear fleet will lead EDF, in France, to shut down the reactor to accurately assess the current situation and halt its development,” EDF said in a statement later. at the meeting

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

EDF said last month that an accumulation of noble, or inert, gases in Taishan appeared to have occurred due to problems with the envelope around some fuel pipes, the first of three containment barriers at the reactor.

The company said it had been allowed to analyze the data in relation to the “detection of unsealed assembly lines in reactor No. 1 of the Taishan power plant.”

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

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

An EDF spokesman told FT on Thursday that the primary concern was to begin maintenance to resolve the issue.

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

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

Taishan is the first nuclear power plant in the world to operate a European Pressurized Reactor, a Franco-German technology that for two decades has been exploited by delays and cost overruns.

The first reactor at the Taishan plant began commercial activity in December 2018, and its second reactor went into operation in September 2019.

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

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

The news network said Joe Biden’s National Security Council was following the situation but did not think a “crisis level” had been reached.

Nuclear power in China is central to President Xi Jinping’s ambitious environmental goals, which include achieving zero carbon dioxide emissions by zero by 2060. About 50 nuclear reactors will operate in China, representing about 5 percent of total power generation.

CGN did not respond to requests for comment outside of normal working hours on Thursday.

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