U.N.’s nuclear watchdog has “no indication” Chinese nuclear plant is leaking

After a potential radioactive leak was reported Monday at a nuclear plant in China, the United Nations‘ nuclear watchdog told the Associated Press there is “no indication” one occurred.

The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) said that it knew of media reports about possible radioactive danger and that it would share more information when available on the Taishan Nuclear Power Plant. The facility is owned by the China Guangdong Nuclear Power Group and France’s Électricité de France, the main owner of Framatome, a French company that designs and manufactures nuclear power plant equipment and systems.

“At this stage, the agency has no indication that a radiological incident occurred,” the IAEA said. Framatome informed the U.S. Department of Energy of an “imminent radiological threat” at the plant, but U.S. officials believed no dire threat to safety was present, CNN said Monday. Following the report, Framatome said a “performance issue” was being dealt with.

Workers wait for French Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault to arrive at the joint Sino-French Taishan Nuclear Power Station outside the city of Taishan in Guangdong province on December 8, 2013. The United Nation’s nuclear watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency, said it has “no indication” of a radioactive leak at the Taishan Nuclear Power Plant following reports of one.
Peter Parks/AFP via Getty Images

For more reporting from the Associated Press, see below:

Framatome said the plant is operating within safety limits. Électricité de France, a multinational electric utility, helps operate the plant.

“Framatome is supporting resolution of a performance issue with the Taishan Nuclear Power Plant in Guangdong province, China,” Framatome said in a statement Monday.

“According to the data available, the plant is operating within the safety parameters,” it said. “Our team is working with relevant experts to assess the situation and propose solutions to address any potential issue.”

Radiation levels in Hong Kong, 85 miles from the Taishan plant, were normal on Monday, according to the Hong Kong Observatory, which monitors radiation around the city.

CNN reported Monday that Framatome had written to the U.S. Department of Energy and accused Chinese authorities of raising acceptable limits for radiation outside the plant to avoid having to shut it down.

Électricité de France said in a statement Monday that it had been informed of the increase in concentration of “certain rare gases” in the primary circuit of reactor No. 1 at the Taishan plant.

“The presence of certain rare gases in the primary circuit is a known phenomenon, studied and foreseen by the operating procedures of the reactors,” it said.

The utility said it is providing its expertise and has requested that the joint venture company that runs the plant hold a meeting of its board of directors so that management “presents all the data and the necessary decisions.”

Chinese authorities in Beijing and Guangdong did not immediately respond to attempts to seek comment on Monday, a public holiday.

The plant issued a statement on Sunday saying, “At present, continuous monitoring of environmental data shows that the environmental indicators of Taishan Nuclear Power Plant and its surroundings are normal.”

It did not refer to any problems and said that “all operating indicators of the two units have met the requirements of nuclear safety regulations and power plant technical specifications.”

The IAEA told the AP that it was in contact with its counterpart in China.

The two reactors entered commercial operation in December 2018 and September 2019, the local city government said on its website. They are the first of a new type called European Pressurized Reactors to become operational in the world. Construction began earlier on two other EPRs in Finland and France, but they continue to face costly delays.

China's Taishan Nuclear Power Plant
In this Oct. 17, 2013, file photo, then British Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne, left, chats with Taishan Nuclear Power Joint Venture Co. Ltd. General Manager Guo Liming as he inspects a nuclear reactor under construction at the nuclear power plant in Taishan, southeastern China’s Guangdong province. The French joint operator of the Chinese nuclear plant near Hong Kong said Monday it is dealing with a “performance issue” but is currently operating within safety limits, following a report of a potential radioactive leak.
Bobby Yip/AP Photo

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