130km from Hong Kong, Taishan’s troubled nuclear plant secretly comes online despite defects. Unit 1 of the much delayed Taishan nuclear power plant in Guangdong province has secretly started up earlier this month, despite new problems identified by China’s National Nuclear Safety Administration (NNSA) just one week earlier. It also comes less than six months after an investigation by FactWire revealed cracks in important components of the same reactor, including a defective reactor vessel head that is set to remain in use for seven years. As projects using the same design in Finland and France continue to be plagued by delays and faults, Taishan unit 1 is scheduled to become the first European Pressurised Reactor (EPR) to enter commercial operation. Data from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) shows that the reactor has reached first criticality – the point at which a nuclear reaction begins – on 6 June, although CGN Power, the plant’s major shareholder, did not officially announce the start-up on its website. However, in a report published just a week earlier, the NNSA had identified six major issues in Taishan unit 1 following a safety inspection in late May. It further said that the operator, Taishan Nuclear Power Joint Venture, must rectify the problems before starting up the reactor. According to the report, the problems included equipment malfunction such as a failure of reactor monitoring systems, and human error in responding to false alarms.
Hong Kong Free Press 18th June 2018 read more »