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US Investigating Possible ‘Disastrous’ Leak At Chinese Nuclear Power Facility

by : Emily Brown on : 14 Jun 2021 16:56
US Investigating Possible 'Disastrous' Leak At Chinese Nuclear Power FacilityPA Images

The United States government is investigating a report of a leak at a Chinese nuclear power plant following a warning that it could prove to be an ‘imminent radiological threat.’

The warning came in a letter sent to the US Department of Energy from French company Framatome, which part owns and helps to operate the Taishan Nuclear Power Plant in China’s Guangdong province.

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Following the report, the US government launched an investigation and has been assessing the situation over the past week, with the National Security Council (NSC) holding multiple meetings on the matter.

Taishan Nuclear Power Plant (PA Images)PA Images

According to US officials and documents reviewed by CNN, the warning from Framatome included an accusation that the Chinese safety authority was raising the acceptable limits for radiation detection outside the power plant in an effort to prevent it from being shut down.

It read in part:

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The situation is an imminent radiological threat to the site and to the public and Framatome urgently requests permission to transfer technical data and assistance as may be necessary to return the plant to normal operation.

Two of the National Security Council’s meetings were conducted at deputy level, while another was conducted on Friday, June 11, at the assistant secretary level. Friday’s meeting was reportedly led by NSC Senior Director for China Laura Rosenberger and Senior Director for Arms Control Mallory Stewart.

In response to the warning, one of the sources cited by CNN said the Biden administration does not believe the facility to be at ‘crisis level,’ or that the situation currently poses a severe threat to the workers at the plant or members of the public in China.

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It is possible the situation could become a disaster – however, the source said US officials currently believe it is more likely not to become one.

If the power plant did pose a risk to the public, the US would be required to make it known under treaties related to nuclear accidents, according to officials at the NSC, State Department and the Department of Energy.

It is unusual for Framatome to have reached out to US officials while its Chinese, state-owned partner has not acknowledged any issues, but the Biden administration is said to have discussed the situation with the French government as well as their own experts at the Department of Energy.

Taishan Nuclear Power Plant (PA Images)PA Images
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Officials have also been in contact with the Chinese government, though the extent of the conversations between the two countries is not clear.

Framatome’s reason for contacting the US in the first place was to obtain a waiver that would allow them to share American technical assistance to help resolve the issue at the power plant. While the US could approve this waiver, it is up to the Chinese government to decide whether the plant would need to be shut down completely.

In a statement issued on its website on Sunday, June 13, Taishan Nuclear Power Plant said environmental readings for both the plant and its surrounding area were ‘normal.’

Featured Image Credit: PA Images

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Emily Brown

Emily Brown first began delivering important news stories aged just 13, when she launched her career with a paper round. She graduated with a BA Hons in English Language in the Media from Lancaster University, and went on to become a freelance writer and blogger. Emily contributed to The Sunday Times Travel Magazine and Student Problems before becoming a journalist at UNILAD, where she works on breaking news as well as longer form features.

Topics: News, China, Now, radiation

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CNN
  1. CNN

    Exclusive: US assessing reported leak at Chinese nuclear power facility