PARIS, November 29 (Reuters) – A design flaw in the reactor vessel could be the root cause of a problem that was made public in June at the nuclear power plant jointly owned by EDF in China, a French non-governmental organization said, citing a whistleblower.
One of the reactors at the Taishan facility, operated by the state-controlled China General Nuclear Power Group with EDF, was shut down in August for maintenance pending the results of an investigation into damage to the combustible.
An EDF spokesperson said on Monday that the investigation into the damage caused by the fuel and the vessel was still ongoing, adding that the cause of the problem could not be determined until the investigation was completed.
The decision to shut down the reactor was taken after EDF announced in mid-June that it was examining a potential problem at the nuclear power plant linked to a build-up of inert gases. At the time, US news network CNN reported that the US government was investigating reports of the leaks and a potential radiological threat.
The Independent Commission for Research and Information on Radioactivity (CRIIRAD), a French association created in the aftermath of the Chernobyl disaster, indicated in an email sent to the French Nuclear Safety Authority that it had been in contact with a launcher of alert on the possible cause of the accident. .
He said the whistleblower, whom he described as a French engineer working in the nuclear industry and having access to detailed technical information on the Taishan reactor, linked the damage found on the fuel assemblies to “abnormal vibrations”.
These vibrations could in turn be associated with a design flaw in the EPR pressure tank, he said, citing the whistleblower.
In the November 27 email, CRIIRAD asked the French Nuclear Observatory to investigate the whistleblower’s allegations, adding that any failure of the Chinese plant could have implications for other nuclear reactors. that EDF is developing in France and abroad.
“It is essential that the nuclear safety authorities of the countries concerned be able to carry out a rigorous analysis of the experience feedback from Taishan 1 and its consequences on the safety of EPR reactors”, declared CRIIRAD.
Julien Collet, deputy director general of the Nuclear Safety Authority (ASN), told Reuters it was too early for the agency to draw any conclusions as investigations were still ongoing.
“That said, these are issues that will need to be addressed from a security perspective when the time is right,” said Collet.
(Report by Benjamin Mallet, written by Silvia Aloisi; edited by David Evans)
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