Crisis At Chinese Nuclear Power Plant: Update 1
This is the new information we have gathered since our previous report.
That previous report can be found here:
“There is no abnormality in the radiation environment around the nuclear power plant. Its safety is guaranteed,” foreign ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian told a news briefing in Beijing.”
This is the kind of statement you see at the start of a disaster movie.
We now know for sure the problem at this reactor is some form of fuel failure. The problem began back in October 2020 as it was discovered after the reactor was refueled.
Taishan unit 1 recently began its second fuel cycle. New information shows this refueling process took place in October of 2020. The problems were initially discovered soon after restarting the reactor. In the recent refueling any known leakers should have been replaced. The noble gas problems shortly after the fuel rotation points to an incident, rather than minor leaks. The plant operators admitted that the problem was initially identified soon after refueling.
“The spokesperson noted the risk of a potential leakage in the rod housing was first discussed following a planned refueling outage in October 2020 after initial measurements led to suspicions of a “lack of tightness” in the housings. However, the spokesperson stressed that without a full analysis, it is too early to confirm whether a complete shutdown of the reactor is needed, adding that EDF currently has no information regarding the origin of the rod housing degradation.”
EDF has clearly confirmed that there is a fuel rod problem inside the reactor and that they have been purposely venting the reactor to remove xenon and krypton gasses. An expert quoted by AP confirmed the widespread concern with this incident.
“I suspect the leakage is far more widespread than just a single assembly,” he said. “Because of that, they probably need some special technology to resolve this leakage problem.”
The radioactive gas release from the reactor in April was further described by authorities today, it appears to have been more problematic than the build up of gasses in the system from leaking fuel rods.
“In April, a burst of radioactive gas unexpectedly entered a pipe at Unit 1’s waste gas treatment system just as workers were trying to seal it, also triggering an alarm, CNSA said.”
This is the radiation release that was detected 80 miles away in Hong Kong. The New York Times documented the detected release as:
“The release was equal to only 0.00044 percent of the annual limit for the power plant’s releases of that gas, however, the Hong Kong government said.”
Typical annual allowed individual person public exposure is 1 millisieverts per the ICRP, some standards could be as high as 5 millisieverts.
0.00044% of 5 = 2.2E-5 millisieverts
0.00044% of 1 = 4.4E-6 millisieverts
This detected amount isn’t high, but this is what was detected after 80 miles of dispersing into the environment.
241 fuel assemblies are installed in the reactor core of unit 1. These assemblies are larger than the type used in BWR reactors like those at Fukushima Daiichi.
Framatome, a division or EDF appears to have supplied the fuel that is in unit 1’s reactor. Framatome is heavily involved in the operations of the Taishan reactors and China’s nuclear power program. More information on Framatome’s fuel production capabilities can be found here.
Framatome may need to ask the US for permission to share technology as they may have originally licensed the fuel technology from US Westinghouse. Westinghouse was the original designer of pressurized water reactor technology and the related fuel assemblies.
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