Nukewatch Quarterly Summer 2021
At China’s Taishan nuclear reactor complex 80 miles south of Hong Kong, several damaged uranium fuel rods caused an unusual buildup of radioactive gases, according to China’s National Nuclear Safety Administration (NNSA). On June 14, a spokesperson for EDF, the French designer and part owner of the reactors, said the problem meant that the gases had to be released into the atmosphere, BBC reported.
The New York Times reported June 16 that the NNSA “said no leak into the environment had occurred.” What NNSA did announce was, “At present, monitoring results of the radiation environment around the Taishan Nuclear Power Plant show that there is no abnormality in the radiation level around the nuclear power plant.” The Times’ rewording of the NNSA’s message eliminated its acknowledgement of a “radiation environment” around the reactors.
A separate controversy erupted when EDF reportedly said in a June 8 memo that the NNSA had raised the allowable “off-site dose limits” around the reactor in order “to avoid shutting it down.” China’s environment ministry then announced that the report was not true. The two Taishan reactors are only 3 years old, and are of a new design to begin operating anywhere in the world.
— BBC, World Nuclear News, and New York Times, June 16; BBC, June 15; and CNN, June 14, 2021
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