Following a French company's warning about an "imminent radioactive hazard," officials in Washington spent a week investigating a report of a probable radioactive leak at the Taishan Nuclear Power Plant in China's Guangdong region, according to US media late Monday.
According to Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Zhao Lijian, radiation readings at the Taishan NPP are normal, and there are no safety concerns to disclose.
“The current condition at the Taishan Nuclear Power Plant meets technical criteria, according to information provided by competent authorities,” the official continued.
He emphasized that Beijing is concerned about nuclear safety and has a nuclear safety management and monitoring system in place that is compliant with international norms as well as national specificities.
Zhao's remarks come after CNN reported on Monday that the US National Security Council had spent a week reviewing a report on a potential "leak" at Taishan and had attended "several" meetings on the subject. Framatome, a French nuclear reactor manufacturer that owns and operates the plant in part, reportedly sent a letter to the US Department of Energy warning of an "imminent radioactive threat" and accusing Chinese officials of raising radiation regulations to avoid a plant closure.
Framatome filed its petition to Washington in the hopes of receiving an emergency waiver for American sanctions, according to a memo acquired by CNN. In 2019, the US imposed limitations on China's nuclear power business, ostensibly due to worries about its suspected ties to the Chinese military. At the time, Beijing slammed the US move, and analysts believed the limits were politically driven.
On Sunday, Taishan NPP issued a statement stating that the radiation status in and around the plant was “normal” and that both reactors were functioning — one of which had recently had an upgrade. The plant said in a statement that “all operating indicators of the two units met the criteria of nuclear safety legislation and power plant technical specifications.”
On Friday, Framatome released a separate public statement stating that “according to the data available, the plant is functioning within the safety parameters,” and that the company is “supporting the resolution of a performance issue.”
Other news outlets, such as Bloomberg, referred to the Chernobyl disaster in their reportage.
Electricite de France (EDF), the parent company of Framatome, owns a 30% stake in Taishan NPP, together with China General Nuclear Power Group. The dual reactor plant is located in southern China, approximately 75 kilometers west of Macao and 140 kilometers west of Hong Kong. The plant, which purportedly uses a "new generation" of nuclear reactor technology, went online between 2018 and 2019.