The first powered-up European Pressurized Reactor at the Taishan Power Plant in Guangdong Province, China, has came under media scrutiny this week after a build up of radioactive gas came about, the result of about five damaged fuel rods.
The Chinese government said “about five” out of 60,000 fuel rods in the reactor core were damaged enough to cause the gas build up. The government also called the problem of damaged fuel rods a common problem that was well under the tolerance level of 0.25 percent of fuel rods. In this case “about five” fuel rods translates to less than 0.01 percent. To reach 0.25 percent would take 150 damaged fuel rods.
The Taishan plant operates two EPR units designed, constructed and operated by French companies EDF and Framatome. While the Chinese government downplayed the incident, the French companies both confirmed Unit No. 1 had been the subject of regulatory intervention.
The government of China said radiation levels around the plant were normal “and there is no leakage.”
In a joint statement, the Environment Ministry and the National Nuclear Safety Administration of China said, “due to the influence of uncontrollable factors in fuel manufacturing, transportation, loading and other links, a small amount of fuel rod damage is inevitable. The statement went on to call the problem “a common phenomenon.”
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As a nuclear fuel inspector and QA Auditor I agree that this is in line with US experience. This isn't the type of thing the US usually reported to national media or if we did they didn't get too upset about it. TP White