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Design defect could be a source of concern at the Chinese nuclear plant-NGO of EDF

Design defect could be a source of concern at the Chinese nuclear plant-NGO of EDF

A French non-governmental organization claimed, quoting a whistleblower, that a design flaw in the reactor pressure vessel could be the source of a problem that was made public in June at EDF's jointly-owned nuclear power plant in China.

Un of the reactors at Taishan facility, which is run by China General Nuclear Power Group with state-controlled EDF, was halted in August for maintenance until the conclusion of an investigation into fuel damage.

An EDF spokesperson stated Monday that the fuel damage investigation was still ongoing, adding that the reason of the problem could not be determined before that inquiry is concluded.

The decision to stop the reactor was taken after EDF said in mid-June that the nuclear power station was being investigated as a possibility linked to a production of inert gases. At the time, U.S. news network CNN stated that the United States government was looking into leaks and a possible radiological threat.

The Commission for Independent Research and Information on Radioactivity (CRIIRAD), a French association formed in the aftermath of the Chernobyl tragedy, sent an email to France's nuclear safety authority saying it had been in contact with a whistleblower about the alleged cause of the accident.

It stated that the whistleblower, whom it calls "a French engineer who works in the nuclear industry and has access to precise technical information about the Taishan reactor, had linked damage detected on the fuel assemblies to "abnormal vibrations".

According to the whistleblower, these vibrations may be linked to a design flaw in the EPR pressure vessel.

CRIIRAD requested the French nuclear watchdog to investigate the whistleblower's accusations in an email, dated Nov. 27, which stated that any fault at the Chinese plant may have consequences for other nuclear reactors EDF is developing in France and abroad.

"It is crucial that the nuclear safety authorities of the countries concerned can conduct a thorough analysis of the feedback obtained from Taishan 1 and its implications for the safety of EPR reactors," CRIIRAD added.

As investigations are ongoing, Julien Collet, deputy general director of the nuclear safety authority (ASN), told Reuters that the agency was too early to draw any conclusions.

"As the right moment comes, these are concerns that need to be addressed from a safety perspective," Collet stated.

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