The French power company that co-owns a nuclear plant in China would shut it down if it could, due to damage to the fuel rods, a spokesperson said — but the decision is ultimately up to the plant’s Chinese operator.
The spokesperson for Electricite de France (EDF) said on Thursday that while it was “not an emergency situation” at the Taishan Nuclear Power Plant, located in China’s southern Guangdong province, it was a “serious situation that is evolving.”
If the reactor was in France, the company would have shut it down already due to “the procedures and practices in terms of operating nuclear power plants in France,” the spokesperson said.
The spokesperson did not directly call on China to halt operations at the plant, noting it was a decision for its Chinese partner and majority shareholder in the plant, the China General Nuclear Power Group (CGN).
CNN first reported in June that the French company Framatome — an EDF subsidiary which supports operations at Taishan — had warned of an “imminent radiological threat” at the plant, prompting the United States government to investigate the possibility of a leak.
The company had also accused the Chinese safety authority of raising the acceptable limits for radiation detection outside the plant in order to avoid having to shut it down, according to a letter from Framatome to the US Department of Energy, obtained by CNN.
Chinese authorities have denied any danger at the plant, saying soon after CNN’s exclusive report that there was “no abnormality in the radiation environment” and the safety of the plant was “guaranteed.” Authorities declined to answer follow-up questions regarding Framatome’s warning to US officials.
In June, the Chinese nuclear safety administration acknowledged an increased level of radioactivity in the primary circuit in one of the two reactors due to damaged fuel rods — but said it was “completely different from a radiological leakage accident” because the “physical barriers are safe.”