QWe can be reassured that Taishan is neither Chernobyl nor Fukushima. The incident at the No.1 reactor at the nuclear power plant, an EPR built with the help of EDF in southern China, did not result in radioactive releases into the atmosphere. So why so many worried questions about a leak that has not even been rated on the International Nuclear Events Severity Scale (INES)? Precisely because it is nuclear; and that the incident took place in the Middle Kingdom, which is also the world of silence. Transparency, which remains a struggle in democratic countries, reigns less there than elsewhere.
The information was distilled after being sifted through the authorities, furious that this dysfunction was revealed by the Americans via the CNN television channel. EDF has obtained technical elements; and its long-standing partner, China General Nuclear Power Group (CGN), claimed that the radiological situation was “Normal” around the site. Without providing all the requested data.
One week after being warned of the leak of rare gases laden with radioactivity in the cooling system, EDF was still awaiting a response to its request for an emergency convening of a board of directors of TNPJVC, the CGN-EDF joint venture operating the power plant. The French group, which holds 30%, is chasing information and no longer seems to be considered an equal partner. The time he shared with CGN feedback is over.
Opacity feeds conspiracy
The party state embodied by President Xi Jinping controls urbi et orbi communication. Investigators from the World Health Organization experienced it this winter: they did not obtain all the data desired during their inspection in Wuhan, the epicenter of the Covid-19 pandemic. And will we one day have all the information on the explosion of a depot of very toxic products at the port of Tianjin, in August 2015, which, according to the official report, had caused 173 deaths and nearly 800 injured?
The Taishan incident may be attributable to a manufacturing defect at the French Framatome factory, exonerating China from all liability. Unless CGN has kept the reactor in operation, on political order, so as not to worsen the electricity shortage which is hitting this highly industrialized region, allowing a leakage of fuel rods known since October to deteriorate. In a sector as sensitive as nuclear, opacity feeds conspiracy. It is amplified in China by the dogma of the infallibility of the socialist model and the feeling, exalted by Xi, of his superiority over the West.
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