TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — The Chinese government is denying there were any radiation leaks from its new homegrown nuclear power plant after it "automatically shut down" following an incident involving the main steam line.
On Nov. 27, the Fuqing Nuclear Power Plant, which is based on China's first domestically developed nuclear reactor design, Hualong One (華龍一號), powered up and connected to the national grid. According to China's state-run media, all technical indicators of the unit met design requirements and were in good condition when the nuclear reactor went online.
However, hk01 on Tuesday (Dec. 15) reported that China's Ministry of Ecology and Environment on its website recently released a notice from the National Nuclear Safety Administration (NNSA) at the beginning of December stating that during an inspection of the stream extraction system at Unit 5 of the Fuqing Nuclear Power Plant on Oct. 27, oscillations in the main steam line triggered an automatic shutdown of the unit.
The NNSA described the shutdown as a "Level 0 operational incident" and claimed that it did not cause any radioactive release. It also denied that it caused any adverse effects on personnel and environmental safety.
The notification also stated that the NNSA sent experts to the site from Nov. 9 to 13 to conduct an independent investigation into the incident. It also requested the plant study the reliability of equipment related to the main steam line and take necessary measures to monitor its operations.
Based on industry standards, a reactor trip or an automatic shutdown of the fission reaction is implemented on a nuclear reactor if an abnormal situation occurs during the operation of the plant. The "trip" is achieved by the rapid insertion of control rods into the reactor core.
According to the China National Nuclear Corporation (CNNC), the Hualong One is a third-generation pressurized water reactor that can produce 10 billion kilowatt-hours of electricity each year. Unphased by the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster, China is doubling down on nuclear power to lower its carbon emissions to reach its 2060 carbon neutrality pledge, with 13 new plants under construction.
The Fuqing Nuclear Power Plant takes its name from Fuqing, which is a county-level city in Fujian Province. The plant is approximately 232 kilometers to the northwest of Taipei.