China returns to service an EPR reactor, a year after an incident

An EPR reactor at the Taishan nuclear power plant in southern China is back in operation more than a year after it was shut down for a sealing problem, its operator said.

Built in partnership with the French energy group EDF, the Taishan power plant, near Hong Kong, is the first EPR facility to have been commissioned in the world. This technology is presented as the flagship of the French nuclear industry and a showcase for EDF.

EPR is back

In July 2021, one of the two Taishan reactors was shut down, after the discovery of a fuel rod sealing problem, then described as “current” by the Chinese authorities who had ruled out any danger. .

After “inspection and maintenance”, the reactor in question was reconnected earlier this week to the Chinese electricity grid, the local operator of the Taishan power plant, the Chinese CGN, announced on Tuesday. No abnormality in the plant and its surroundings has been observed, specifies CGN, which ensures that safety is a “priority”.

Praise of the long time

Associated with the project, EDF supplied the EPR technology for the Taishan power plant but is a minority shareholder (30%), via a joint venture founded with CGN. EDF confirmed on Wednesday the return to service of the EPR reactor in question.

“After an in-depth investigation, the Chinese safety authority has given its approval for the restart of the Taishan EPR reactor (number 1),” said a spokeswoman. EPR (European Pressurized Reactor) technology is designed to provide improved power and safety.

But it has suffered many disappointments, in France, Finland and to a lesser extent in England, where reactors under construction have accumulated delays and budget overruns. Launched in 1992, EPR technology was co-developed by the French Areva and the German Siemens within their joint subsidiary – from which Siemens has since withdrawn. EDF finally took control of this activity during the reorganization of the French nuclear sector orchestrated by the State.

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