A French company who has partial ownership and operational responsibility with the Taishan Nuclear Power Plant of China recently reached out to the United State’s government urgently requesting help because the nuclear plant is reported to be leaking gas and Chinese officials have authorized the use of continued gas release into the surrounding area in order to prevent a shutdown of the plant.
The Biden administration participated in multiple meetings about the issue last week examining how to address the situation, but they claim that the situation is not yet unstable enough to pose a “severe” risk to China’s population. However, the French company, Framatome, warned the Biden administration in a letter that the situation poses an “imminent radiological threat.”
CNN reports that Framatome is seeking a waiver from the US which would grant them technical assistance to resolve the issue. The waiver could be granted on two conditions, one of which includes “imminent radiological threat.” The reporting also states that the document from Framatome indicates that the Chinese government is continually allowing increases on gas release from the facility in order to prevent a shutdown, but the Energy Department did not directly address that claim when they responded to CNN for comment.
Retired nuclear scientist of Los Alamos National Laboratory, Cheryl Rofer said that a gas leak is an indication that “some of their containment is broken.” Adding that it could also be a consequence of a broken fuel element which she described as “a more serious problem.” According to Rofer, a broken fuel element would be good cause for shutting the reactor down and refueling.
China’s attempt to keep the lid on their seeming nuclear reactor failure comes amidst renewed calls for probes into China’s other potential infrastructure failure: the likely release of the COVID-19 pandemic from their Wuhan Institute of Virology.
Biden has been criticized for being weak with China, simply begging them to be more transparent about issues of global interest.
However, it’s well known that Chinese officials lied and tried to cover up the pandemic, withholding critical information that could have saved hundreds of thousands of lives if they had been more open about the virus as it spread throughout and beyond its borders.
Let’s hope there’s not more to this story, or we could be looking at Chernobyl 2.0
Author: Brandy Diaz