China General Nuclear has taken the newly commissioned Taishan Unit 1 offline to study and repair issues involving damaged cladding in about five of its fuel rods, which has raised radiation levels slightly in the reactor’s primary circuit.
There are about 60,000 fuel rods in the reactor, which puts the damage and the radiation levels well below regulatory thresholds. The allowable limit for fuel rod damage is 0.25 percent of the total. The current number of damaged rods is in the range of 0.01 percent.
However, Taishan Unit 1 is the world’s first operating EPR reactor. With construction begun in 2009, the 1750-megawatt reactor was declared operational in 2018. As such, any damage to the fuel rods would raise levels of concern if only to find the cause with hopes the issue is not systemic.
The Taishan power plant, consisting of two EPR reactors, is owned by the Taishan Nuclear PowerJoint Venture Company Limited, which is 51 percent owned by CGN, 30 percent owned by its primary designer, the French utility EDF, and 19 percent owned by Guangdong Energy Group, a Chinese utility.
“Taishan Nuclear Power Plant insists on safety first and conservative decision-making in accordance with nuclear safety regulations and nuclear power plant operating procedures," CGN said.
“Combined with the start of construction of the power grid to avoid the demand for construction lines of the switch station in western Guangdong, we chose this time to shut down for maintenance.”
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