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US authorities looking into possible fission gas leak at Chinese nuclear reactor: Report

French partner of Chinese plant requested waiver from US to share technical information

Taishan Nuclear Power Plant

Taishan Nuclear Power Plant (Wikimedia Commons photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — Since last week, the U.S. has been examining the circumstances of a possible fission leak at a nuclear reactor in China after requests from the French company partnered with the local operators of the facility.

Framatone, the French company that helped build the plant, warned of an “imminent radiological threat” in a request for a waiver from U.S. officials that would grant the company permission to share American technical know-how in handling the matter, according to a CNN report.

In the cable requesting the waiver from the U.S. Department of Energy on June 3, Framatone said the Taishan Nuclear Power Plant, located in Guangdong Province’s Taishan, was leaking fission gas. In an alarming development, a cable sent on June 8 said the Chinese authorities had doubled the radiation limits at the plant and in nearby areas to keep the reactor going.

Electricite de France, the parent company of Framatone, has said it is aware of an escalated concentration of “noble gases in the primary circuit” of reactor one at the Chinese plant, per CNN.

U.S. authorities, which only became involved because of the Framatone request, have been liaising with both the French and Chinese governments. The U.S. National Security Council has also held several meetings on the subject.

The Biden administration does not believe the situation at the plant has reached a “crisis level,” according to sources cited by CNN. Were the U.S. to be aware of any imminent danger to the local population, it would be required by treaty to make the information known.

For its part, the Taishan Nuclear Power Plant has yet to acknowledge anything is amiss. It has published a statement claiming the readings for the plant and the surrounding area are both normal, though it claimed part of the facility recently had an “overhaul,” according to the report.

Updated : 2021-07-30 05:03 GMT+08:00