The U.S. has for the past week been investigating a report of a leak at a Chinese nuclear power plant.
French company Framatome, which partly owns and operates the Taishan Nuclear Power Plant, warned of an “imminent radiological threat” at the plant in a letter to the U.S. Department of Energy, CNN reported on Monday. Framatome also alleged that the Chinese nuclear safety authority raised acceptable limits on radiation outside the plant in order to avoid shutting it down entirely.
Framatome reached out to the U.S. regarding the “radiological threat” in order to obtain a waiver to receive American technical assistance with the issue. A decision to shut down the plant falls under the ultimate authority of the Chinese government.
The Biden administration assessed that the issue has not reached “crisis level,” a source told CNN. While the U.S. National Security Council has held multiple meetings on the issue, officials from the NSC, State and Energy Departments said the U.S. would be obligated to inform the public if there was any serious risk.
“The environmental indicators of Taishan Nuclear Power Plant and its surroundings are normal,” read a statement from China General Nuclear Power Group, which operates the facility. “All operating indicators of the two [reactors] have met the requirements of nuclear safety regulations and power plant technical specifications.”
Framatome said in a statement that it “is supporting resolution of a performance issue” at the plant. “According to the data available, the plant is operating within the safety parameters.”
The report comes amid tensions between China and the U.S. that heightened considerably during the coronavirus pandemic. American observers have in recent weeks renewed scrutiny into the theory that the novel coronavirus leaked from a laboratory in the city of Wuhan.