Unit 1 of the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP’s) nuclear reactor, located in Taishan, southern Canton Province, China, was forced to shut down due to fuel rod damage. The event was described as a “serious situation” by a spokesman for the French energy company Electricite de France (EDF).

In June, the CCP acknowledged the fuel rod damage at Taishan Nuclear Power Joint Venture Co. but considered it merely a “common” problem, according to the BBC on June 30.

Fuel rods are long, thin zirconium metal tubes containing pellets of fissile material used as fuel for nuclear reactors.

EDF, which owns 30% of the plant, warned the United States that the nuclear regulator had raised the limits on radiation levels allowed outside the plant as an arbitrary strategy to avoid shutting down the reactor. 

They added that the damage to the fuel rods led to a buildup of gases, which were eventually released into the atmosphere, going so far as to say that if it were up to her she would shut down the plant, BBC wrote, citing CNN.

“The concern was significant enough that the National Security Council held multiple meetings last week as they monitored the situation, including two at the deputy level and another meeting at the undersecretary level on Friday, which was led by NSC Senior Director for China Laura Rosenberger and Mallory Stewart, Senior Director of Arms Control, according to U.S. officials,” TheBL wrote citing CNN.

Regardless of whether the issue poses a serious environmental threat or not, the fact that the CCP is unilaterally modifying the limits and standards for radiation detection at will, putting its population and the entire world at risk, is a matter of concern.

After the serious nuclear accidents that occurred in Chernobyl, Russia, and Fukushima, Japan, all eyes are on what may happen in Taishan. 

Moreover, this type of reactor—known as the European pressurized reactor (EPR)—is also planned to be built in other countries, such as Finland, France, and Hinkley Point C (UK).

The Taishan nuclear power plant is the first plant in the world to use the third-generation pressurized water reactor design applied in the EPR.

Tomi Routamo, deputy director of Finland’s Nuclear and Radiation Safety Authority (STUK), said, “Of course we’d like to see the problems and the underlying causes solved. So that the same problems won’t recur at Olkiluoto.”

Routamo referred to the third reactor at the Olkiluoto nuclear power plant in Eurajoki, Finland Routamo noted the Helsinki Times.

Olkiluoto 3 has been delayed by more than 10 years, and the reactor is currently scheduled to start producing power commercially in 2022.

The problem at the Taishan nuclear power plant generated comments on social media, such as those from user @CaptAKJ.

“Forced to shut down. French partner has been insisting upon this for some good time now. Perhaps CCP realised it’s running against time.”

He added: “Stay safe people. Never know, China has it’s own methodology of recording casualties. We hv seen this in d recent floods & d covid of course.”