EDF, the French state-backed power company, said it was looking to hold an extraordinary board meeting at its joint venture nuclear power plant in southern China after a report on a possible leak of radiation.
In a statement released Monday, EDF said it had been “informed of the increase in the concentration of certain rare gases” in the first reactor of the Taishan nuclear power plant, majority owned by China General Nuclear Power Corp. noble gases are inert gases, such as helium, xenon and radon.
He added that such increases were “a phenomenon known, studied and predicted in reactor operating procedures,” but said he was calling for the extraordinary board meeting to review all available data.
In a statement posted on its website Sunday evening, the Taishan nuclear power plant said its two reactors were operating normally. “The [plant’s] environmental indicators and its environment are normal, ”said the plant.
He added that the plant’s second reactor had recently completed a scheduled overhaul and was reconnected to the power grid on June 10.
Taishan is 70 percent owned by CGN, the remainder being owned by EDF. It is the first nuclear power plant in the world to operate a European pressurized reactor, a Franco-German technology haunted by delays and cost overruns for two decades.
The first reactor at the Taishan plant began commercial operations in December 2018, and its second reactor entered service in September 2019.
Taishan, a population of 1 million, is about 75 km west of the Pearl River Delta, the most densely populated part of southern Guangdong Province. Hong Kong is about 140 km from the power station.
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 Monday that the EDF Framatome unit recently informed the US government of a potential “imminent radiological threat to the site and to the public.”
“Framatome supports the resolution of a performance issue with the Taishan nuclear power plant,” Framatome said in a statement on Monday, adding that “based on available data the plant is operating within safe settings.”
The French government is monitoring the situation, officials say.
CNN said President Joe Biden’s National Security Council was monitoring the situation but did not yet believe a “crisis level” had been reached.
CGN declined to comment. The Taishan municipal government and China’s National Nuclear Safety Administration were not immediately available for comment on Monday, a Chinese public holiday.
Nuclear power is at the heart of President Xi Jinping’s ambitions environmental goals, which include achieving zero net carbon dioxide emissions by 2060.
There are about 50 nuclear reactors in operation in China, accounting for about 5% of total electricity production.
Additional reporting by Qianer Liu in Shenzhen