Carrie Lam ‘highly concerned’ about reported leaks at nuclear plant

Hong Kong: Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam says her government is “highly concerned” about the situation at a nearby nuclear power plant in mainland China, following media reports that the plant could be experiencing a leak.

Lam’s comments came a day after the French joint operator of the Taishan Nuclear Power Plant in Guangdong province said it was dealing with a “performance issue” at the plant, but that it was operating within safety parameters. The company statement followed media reports that the plant could be experiencing a leak.

Carrie Lam on Tuesday: “With regards to foreign media reports about a nuclear plant in Taishan, Guangzhou, the Hong Kong government is highly concerned.”Credit:AP

Still, data from the Hong Kong Observatory and other departments showed that as of Monday night the radiation levels in the city were normal, Lam said at a regularly scheduled news conference.

Data from the observatory showed that was still the case on Tuesday.

The plant is located about 135 kilometres from Hong Kong, meaning a potential leak could impact the financial hub.

“With regards to foreign media reports about a nuclear plant in Taishan, Guangzhou, the Hong Kong government is highly concerned,” Lam said.

She said the city had systems in place to monitor radiation levels and the government would inform the public of any developments. Lam also said that her government would reach out to authorities in Guangdong about the situation.

The Taishan plant is jointly owned by China Guangdong Nuclear Power Group (CGN) and French multinational electric utility Electricite de France, the main owner of Framatome, which helps operate the plant.

On Monday CNN reported that Framatome had written to the US Department of Energy warning of an “imminent radiological threat” and accusing Chinese authorities of raising acceptable limits for radiation outside the plant to avoid having to shut it down. CNN said US officials believed the situation did not present a severe safety threat.

A 2013 file photo of the George Osborne, then the UK’s Chancellor of the Exchequer, with Taishan Nuclear Power Joint Venture general manager Guo Liming.Credit:AP

Electricite de France said in a statement on Monday that it had been informed of the increase in concentration of “certain rare gases” in the primary circuit of reactor No. 1 at the Taishan plant.

The utility also requested the joint venture company that runs the plant hold a meeting of its board of directors so that management “presents all the data and the necessary decisions”.

Chinese authorities in Beijing and Guangdong did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

On Monday China’s Taishan Nuclear Power Plant said accusations of dangerous levels of radiation leakage at the facility were untrue, claiming its two reactors were operating normally.

“Recently there have been some agencies and media organisations paying attention to and inquiring into the situation at the Taishan Nuclear Power Plant,” CGN said in a statement on its website, before the CNN report was published.

On Weibo, Wang Yigang, member of the Institute of Industrial Economics, affiliated with Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, said the accusations were the doing of the “American imperialism hyping up opposition to nuclear power and forcing China to develop wind and solar power only.”

The two reactors at the Taishan plant entered commercial operation in December 2018 and September 2019, the local city government said on its website. They were the first of a new type called European Pressurised Reactors to become operational in the world.

Construction began earlier on two other EPRs in Finland and France, but they continue to face costly delays.

Reuters, Washington Post

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