China nuclear: Taishan reactor shut down over damaged fuel rods

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image captionThe Chinese plant operator said it had shut down one reactor after "lengthy" talks with technical staff

A Chinese nuclear plant has shut down one of its reactors for maintenance after minor damage to fuel rods.

The plant operator said in a statement it had shut Unit 1 at the Taishan nuclear plant in Guangdong province after "lengthy" talks with technicians.

Taishan is the first site in the world to have this kind of reactor.

The type of reactor - known as EPR - is also set to be built in other countries, including Finland, France and at Hinkley Point C in the UK.

The latest move comes a month after the Chinese government acknowledged damage to fuel rods at the Taishan unit, but said it was a "common" problem, with no need for concern.

China General Nuclear Power Group (CGN) said in a statement on Friday that the reactor was "completely under control".

Engineers would find the cause of the damage and replace the fuel rods, the statement read.

CNN said French energy firm EDF, which helps run the site, had warned the US government that China's nuclear regulator had raised limits on permissible levels of radiation outside the plant to avoid shutting it down.

EDF later said a problem with fuel rods had led to the build-up of gases, which had to be released into the atmosphere.

Fuel rods are sealed metal tubes which hold nuclear materials used to fuel the nuclear reactor.

Last week an EDF spokesperson told CNN the French company would shut the plant down if it could.

They said the decision lay with the Chinese operator.

The situation at Taishan was "not an emergency" but nevertheless a "serious situation", the spokesperson added.

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