In news that is likely to alarm most people, a Chinese nuclear power plant may have suffered a leak. According to reports, the situation was first flagged by French nuclear reactor business Framatome, which warned of an "imminent radiological threat". While the reports have been denied by Chinese authorities (and unverified by their western counterparts), investigations are now underway.
According to a CNN report, the US government has spent the past week assessing reports of a possible leak at the Taishan Nuclear Power Plant in China's Guangdong province. Framatome, which partly owns and helps operate the plant had said that it was working to resolve a "performance issue". The company, which is mainly owned by Électricité de France (EDF), had submitted an operational safety assistance request on June 3 and warned American authorities that the reactor was leaking fission gas.
According to the CNN report, Framatome had also reached out to the US government for assistance and contended that the Chinese authorities were continuing to increase the limits for the amount of gas that could be safely released from the facility to avoid shutting the reactor down. While US officials have so far maintained that the situation does not presently pose a severe safety threat, the Taishan Nuclear Power Plant insisted via a statement on its website that environmental readings for both the plant and its surrounding area were "normal."
Later updates however indicate that the reports might not be so easily dismissed. On Monday, EDF said that there was an "increase in the concentration of noble gases" in the cooling system of the Taishan nuclear plant.
Powered up in 2018, the Taishan plant was the first worldwide to operate a next-generation EPR nuclear reactor, a pressurised water design that has been subject to years of delays in similar European projects in Britain, France and Finland.