Gas Leak at Chinese Nuclear Facility, ‘Not Crisis Level’, Says US

·2 min read

A nuclear power plant in Taishan, China, raised concerns after the facility’s French part-owner was apprised of a gas leak at one of the power station’s reactors and called a meeting with its Chinese partner over the issue.

The French-owned energy firm EDF subsidiary Framatome warned the United States Department of Energy an “imminent radiological threat”, following which the US government spent a week taking stock of the leak report, CNN reported.

Framatome approached the US for a waiver, seeking assistance as the official Chinese agency continued to increase its limits on the ‘acceptable’ quantity of gas emissions from the facility without shutting it down, CNN further stated.

The report noted that despite the perturbing notification, the Biden administration evaluated that the facility was not yet at a “crisis level” and does not present a “severe security threat” to the plant workers or Chinese citizens.

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What Happened

According to the EDF, noble gasses such as xenon and krypton were accumulated in the cooling system of the plant's reactor number 1, BBC reported.

Following this, they underwent treatment before being released into the atmosphere in "accordance with regulations".

"We are not talking about contamination, we are talking about controlled emissions," an unnamed source told news agency AFP. The spokesperson told AFP that the gas leaked after the coating on some of the fuel rods deteriorated.

Fuel rods refer to sealed metal tubes, which hold material that fuel the nuclear reactor.

United Nations’ International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) announced that there was "no indication that a radiological incident had occurred,” BBC reported.

The US government declined to elaborate on the assessment undertaken by its officials but stated that it is bound by nuclear treaties to make the Chinese public aware of any potential threat.

A source spoke to CNN stating that while US officials do not consider the leak to be “crisis level”, they acknowledge it is increasing and needs monitoring.

(With inputs from CNN, BBC, AFP)

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