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US News nuclear in China: a reactor of the EPR Taishan "set to stop for maintenance"

19:03  30 july  2021
19:03  30 july  2021 Source:   leparisien.fr

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L'EPR de Taishan a été mis à l'arrêt, un mois et demi après l'annonce d'une fuite. AFP/Peter Parks © Peter Parks The Taishan EPR has been stopped, a month and a half after the announcement of a leak. AFP / Peter Parks

The decision was finally taken. A Taishan EPR reactor (in southern China, not far from Macao and Hongkong) was "stopped for maintenance," said Friday, the Chinese operator in charge of the site. "The nuclear power plant in Taishan (...) making sure its first priority (...) decided to stop the reactor 1 for maintenance, in order to find the cause of the damage affecting the fuel and to replace the damaged fuel", A- he indicated in a statement. A decision taken "after a substantial discussion between Chinese and French technical staff".

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mid-June, the authorities of the country had reported a leak at the EPR reactor level 1 - the only one in operation in the world, carried out in partnership with French EDF and put into service between 2018 and 2019 . It was linked to fuel reloading carried out in 2020. A small number of damaged uranium fuel bars ("pencils") caused an accumulation of rare radioactive gases in the primary, waterproof circuit of the plant. The authorities had qualified the phenomenon of "current" and dismissed any danger .

A month later, EDF, partner of the project, declared that if a similar situation occurred in France, would put the reactor at , to investigate and avoid additional degradation.

"In view of the analyzes made, the EDF procedures for the operation of the French nuclear fleet would lead EDF, in France, to put the reactor at the stop to precisely characterize the current phenomenon and stop its evolution", a Indicated the electrician in a statement. "In Taishan, the corresponding decisions belong to TNPJVC," the site operator, adds the French company, which holds 30% alongside the Chinese CGN (70%), and provided EPR technology.

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"Scalable character" of the situation

"According to the data of which EDF has, the radiochemical parameters of the water of the primary circuit remain below the regulatory thresholds in force at the Central Taishan, thresholds which are consistent with the practices. Practices international, "said EDF. However, the data available on the lack of sealing of fuel pencils show "an evolutionary character" revealed by the presence of rare gases, he added.

This stop, "as soon as possible", "rather preventive", aims "several objectives", it explained: "to stop the evolution of the degradation of the fuel sheath, which has sealing defects. Then understand the causes of this loss of sealing by carrying out inspections on damaged pencils ".

  Nucléaire en Chine : un réacteur de l’EPR Taishan «mis à l’arrêt pour maintenance» © Provided by the Parisian

"The judgment would also limit the radiological activity in the water of the primary circuit, and thus to limit the magnitude of the cleaning or decontamination operations of this circuit, which will be necessary. to find a reference state. It is also about providing better intervention conditions for staff, to limit their exposure during the next stop but also possibly for several cycles, "added EDF.

According to the CGN operator, stopping the reactor is not consecutive of imminent danger. The damage to the fuel "remain in the eligible range of technical specifications" and the reactor could have "continues to operate stably", according to the group.

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