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David Fickling

China’s Nuclear Leak Is No Chernobyl, But We Should Still Worry

Reports of a nuclear incident at the Taishan No. 1 plant are less troubling than regulatory silence.

Get more paranoid.

Get more paranoid.

Photographer: Qilai Shen/Bloomberg

Is a nuclear power plant on the edge of China’s 60 million-strong Pearl River Delta megalopolis on the verge of an emergency? It doesn’t look like it — but that doesn’t mean there’s no cause for concern. 

The U.S. government has been assessing a report of a leak at the Taishan No. 1 nuclear power plant west of the cities of Guangzhou, Shenzhen and Hong Kong, CNN reported Monday, adding that the situation doesn’t pose a severe safety threat to workers at the plant or the wider public. A separate statement from Electricite de France SA, or EDF, which owns 30% of the facility and controls Framatome, the company responsible for its maintenance, said there had been an “increase in the concentration of certain noble gases in the primary circuit” of the plant, adding that this was a “known phenomenon.”