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'Increase in concentration' of gases in primary circuit of Taishan: EDF

Highlights

Plant owner CGN says environmental parameters around plant are currently normal

EDF, as minority owner, has called an extraordinary board meeting of plant ownership company

The 1,750-MW Taishan-1 EPR in China has seen an "increase in concentration" of gases in its primary circuit, French power company EDF, which is a minority owner of the plant, said in a statement June 14.

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The unit, which started commercial operation in December 2018, was the first EPR to start operations anywhere in the world.

The Taishan nuclear plant, about 90 miles west of Hong Kong, is owned by TNPJVC, a joint venture between China General Nuclear Corp., or CGN, with a 51% stake, EDF with 30% and Chinese power company Guangdong Energy Group, which holds 19%. The adjacent and identical Taishan-2 started commercial operations in September 2019.

EDF in the statement said that it "has been informed of the increase in the concentration of certain noble gases in the primary circuit."

French company Framatome, which helped design the EPR at Taishan-1, said in a statement June 14 that it was "supporting resolution of a performance issue" with the Taishan plant.

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

CGN said in a statement late June 13 that "at present, continuous monitoring of environmental data show that Taishan nuclear power plant and surrounding environmental indicators are normal."

CGN added that "since it was put into commercial operation," the Taishan nuclear plant had operated "strictly in accordance with the operating license documents [and] technical procedures to control the operation of the unit."

EDF added in its statement that "as a shareholder of TNPJVC, [it] has requested the holding of an extraordinary TNPJVC board of directors meeting for management to present all the data and the necessary decisions."

China has developed its nuclear energy program through the use of foreign reactor designs, and at one time sought to base its new construction efforts on versions of the Westinghouse AP1000, which it gained some intellectual property rights over. This program has seen earlier plants built using international reactor designs, including the two Taishan EPRs, four AP1000s at Haiyang and Sanmen, as well as VVERs at Tianwan. However, now China has started to focus on deployment of the domestically designed Hualong One.

There are currently a further four EPRs under construction globally, including two at Hinkley Point C in England, Olkiluoto-3 in Finland and Flamanville-3 in northern France.

US television network CNN reported June 14 that the US government has over the last week been "assessing a report of a leak at a Chinese" at Taishan-1, after EDF warned the US government that a lea at the plant posed an "imminent radiological threat."