China’s Environment Ministry on Wednesday denied a report from CNN that the country’s Taishan Nuclear Power Plant has suffered a radiation “leak,” claiming that the news network included “erroneous concepts” of nuclear safety.
Beijing admitted in a statement on Wednesday that “about five” of the nuclear power plant’s roughly 60,000 uranium fuel rods have been damaged, but said “there is no leak,” of radiation, according to BBC News.
The statement said that "fuel-rod damage during the operation of nuclear power plants is unavoidable" and "a common phenomenon.”
It added that the National Nuclear Safety Administration reviewed the reactor’s use of noble gases, but said that this had "nothing to do with the detection of radiation outside the nuclear plant.”
CNN reported on Monday that a French company that partly owns the Taishan plant warned of an “imminent radiological threat,” according to U.S. officials and documents obtained by the network. Although the warning sounds alarming, sources in the Biden administration told CNN that the incident is not at “crisis level” at this time.
The French company, Framatome, told CNN in a statement later that the company "is supporting resolution of a performance issue with the Taishan Nuclear Power Plant in Guangdong Province, China."
It added that "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.”
"It is not surprising that the French would reach out," Cheryl Rofer, a nuclear scientist who previously worked at Los Alamos National Laboratory, told CNN. "In general, this sort of thing is not extraordinary, particularly if they think the country they are contacting has some special ability to help."
She added that "China likes to project that everything is just fine, all the time.”
Last Sunday, the Tiashan plant released a statement saying that environmental readings in the area and in the plant were “normal” and noted that one of the plant’s two nuclear reactions was recently given an “overhaul.”
It added, "Since it was put into commercial operation, the Taishan Nuclear Power Plant has strictly controlled the operation of the units in accordance with operating license documents and technical procedures. All operating indicators of the two units have met the requirements of nuclear safety regulations and power plant technical specifications.”
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