Nuclear incident at the EPR at Taishan (China)

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Safety defect of the Taishan 1 EPR reactor, CRIIRAD asks the authorities to draw all the consequences on other EPRs including the one under construction in Flamanville. 4 dec 2021,

According to information sent to CRIIRAD by a whistleblower from the nuclear industry, a generic problem could jeopardize the safety of reactors in the EPR sector

The serious malfunctions at the level of the EPR reactor n°1 of the Taishan power plant (China) – revealed in June 2021 and having led to its early shutdown on July 30 – would be partly linked to a design problem of the EPR tank.

These same failures could then concern the other EPR reactors, starting with Taishan 2 (the only other EPR reactor in operation in the world to date) but also the reactors under construction: Flamanville 3 (France, Normandy), Olkiluoto (Finland) and the 2 EPRs at Hinkley Point in England.

The problems linked to the design of the EPR vessel in terms of hydraulics have been known to manufacturers since at least the end of the 2000s (model tests). The poor distribution of the primary liquid in the vessel would generate high levels of vibration of the nuclear fuel assemblies. These vibrations would have been observed as soon as Taishan 1 was commissioned in 2018.

The vibrations at the level of the reactor core would be the cause of the degradation of the sheaths of the nuclear fuel rods, thus causing leaks of radioactive rare gases, but also of radioactive isotopes of iodine and cesium. They would also have weakened the retaining grids of certain assemblies.

These leaks were noted by operators as early as October 2020 and have steadily worsened over the weeks. Given the risks this represents for workers, residents and nuclear safety, CRIIRAD believes that the Taishan 1 reactor should have been shut down well before July 30.

The damage to the nuclear fuel of the Taishan 1 reactor would be considerable. The whistleblower told CRIIRAD that 70 pencils are damaged belonging to about thirty different assemblies. Many retaining springs broke.

What about the French and Chinese Nuclear Safety Authorities? What do the French and Chinese Nuclear Safety Authorities know? CRIIRAD requests clarification and full transparency in an email sent to the French ASN on November 27, 2021: This more than worrying situation must absolutely be assessed and the results must be made public: nuclear safety and the protection of populations are at stake. In view of the questions, CRIIRAD asks ASN if it considers the loading into the reactor of new fuel delivered to the Flamanville EPR to be acceptable? At a time when France declares that it wants to relaunch its nuclear program, citizens deserve to be honestly informed of the possible failures of the EPR sector, and their protection must be guaranteed as an absolute priority vis-à-vis economic and financial interests. For more information:
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