As a follow-up to our article yesterday about the radioactive leak detected on EDF's EPR reactor in the city of Taishan in China, the Chinese authorities came out of their reservations by indicating that they recognized a minor incident.
The radioactivity just increased a little. This is how China describes what happened in the Taishan plant, involving five damaged fuel rods. These bars, which contain uranium pellets and provide energy in the core of the nuclear reactor, would have generated an accumulation of radioactive gases. And although they concede an increase in radioactivity inside one of the reactors, the authorities wanted to be reassuring and of course ruled out any danger, explaining that this kind of incident is quite normal due to “Uncontrollable factors” during the manufacturing, transport or installation process in the plant. In a statement, they indicated that the increase in radioactivity in the plant is "within the regulatory range" but "there is no radioactive leakage into the environment," said the statement.
On the side of EDF, however, this series of bad news is not the best effect. The image of its flagship is again somewhat tarnished. For a long time now, this new technology has been accompanied by significant additional costs and numerous setbacks. Starting with the first EPR project which began in 2005 in Olkiluoto (Finland) on behalf of the electrician TVO and which should not start until early 2022, almost ten years late. There is, then that of Flamanville, in France, which found itself confronted with anomalies discovered on the composition of the steel of the lid and the bottom of the tank. Now it's China's turn.
That's a lot for EDF. The lessons will have to be learned quickly if the group wants to continue selling EPRs in the rest of the world and to affirm that this technology offers good power and safety.