Controlled concern: The US administration is following up on suspicion of a dangerous leak from a nuclear addict in China following a request for assistance from a French company that helps operate the facility and which has expressed concern about the Chinese conduct, CNN revealed. According to the report, Washington has made it clear that the reactor is not yet in a state of crisis.
Permatom, a company that designs and supplies nuclear equipment and services, contacted the US Department of Energy a month and updated on possible problems at the Taishan nuclear reactor in Guangdong province in southern China, which began operating about two years ago. The reactor is a Sino-French project and Parmatum helps operate it and partially owns it.
On June 3, another request for assistance was sent when French engineers warned of a fission gas leak and another June 8 appeal had already warned of immediate danger. “The situation is an immediate threat of radiation to the site and the public and Pramtom is requesting permission to pass on technical information and assistance as needed in order to return the plant to normal operation,” the memo said.
Moreover, the French warned that the Chinese authorities were constantly raising the emission levels in order to prevent the reactor from closing. “To ensure that off-site quantities are maintained within acceptable limits so as not to cause irreversible damage to the surrounding population, the operating company is required to comply with a regulatory restriction and close the reactor if the continuum is crossed.”
Following the warning from the French company, the State Department began holding consultations with the French government and with technical experts in the Ministry of Energy. The White House National Security Council also held a number of meetings last week under the chairmanship of China’s commissioner Laura Rosenberger and head of weapons control, Laurie Stewart.
A source close to the details told CNN that at this stage the leak is not “at crisis level”, but it is necessary to continue the follow-up. However, it is estimated there is a higher chance that the crisis will not turn into a widespread disaster.