China suppressing negative media coverage on damaged nuclear plant: Report

Beijing: As Chinese President Xi Jinping seeks to increase exports of nuclear reactors to other countries, Beijing is restricting media reports on fuel rods being damaged at a nuclear plant, informed sources familiar with the developments on Thursday.

This comes after a French operator of a Chinese nuclear plant located in Guangdong province has warned US officials of an “imminent radiological threat” following a leak at the plant, according to multiple media reports.

The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) may be trying to prevent concerns over the safety of the country’s nuclear technology from mounting, while the Chinese state media has only reported the government’s announcement on the incident, Kyodo News reported citing sources.

China has said radiation levels remained normal at the Taishan Nuclear Power Plant in Guangdong province and there were no safety concerns.

“There is no abnormality in the radiation levels around the nuclear power plant, and safety is guaranteed,” said Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Zhao Lijian.

However, a document obtained by CNN reveals that the warning by the operator of the Taishan Nuclear Power Plant, Framatome, included an accusation that the Chinese safety authority was raising the acceptable limits for radiation detection. The findings were denied by the Chinese media Global Times.

There have been growing fears about potential radioactive contamination, following the accident at Japan’s Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant in 2011, have prompted the Chinese citizens to stage a campaign against constructing a nuclear facility in the nation’s inland area.

The Chinese government that has emphasised nuclear power to tackle climate change, has effectively prohibited Chinese media from reporting news that would generate a negative impression on its nuclear strategy, Kyodo News reported citing sources.

The Taishan plant in the southeastern Chinese province is located about 130 km from Hong Kong. The plant went online in 2018 and was the first third-generation “evolutionary power reactor” to become operational.

Hong Kong and China’s neighbours, including Japan, have expressed concern about the possible radioactive leakage from the country’s nuclear power plant, urging Beijing to provide an explanation to the international community with transparency.

On Monday, Framatome issued a statement saying that they will support a resolution to the ongoing crisis at the plant. “Our team is working with relevant experts to assess the situation and propose solutions to address any potential issue.”