19 April 2016, Hong Kong – Greenpeace is calling on the Hong Kong government to protect its residents and demand China suspend construction of the world’s largest nuclear reactors amid safety concerns being raised from an identical project in France. The French Nuclear Safety Authority (ASN) confirmed safety issues with a reactor under construction in Flamanville and warned that Taishan Nuclear Power Plant, which shares the same design, may suffer from identical faults. Specifically the pressure vessel’s head and bottom head may be compromised and could fracture causing a nuclear disaster on a larger scale than Chernobyl or Fukushima according to Greenpeace’s analysis.

Senior nuclear specialist with Greenpeace Germany, Shaun Burnie, pointed out carbon contents in pressure vessel lids of Flamanville reactor was found to exceed regulatory limit. He said,“When the reactor is in operation, the pressure vessel is continuously subjected to high temperatures, high pressure and radiation, making the steel gradually brittle. There’s a chance the pressure vessel will fracture during operation. Considering the size of the 1750 MW reactor, once a critical radiation leak happens, it may become the worst nuclear disaster in history.”

As the 30th anniversary of the Chernobyl nuclear accident approaches, governments housing nuclear reactors are provided a sober reminder of the dangers of nuclear power. However, the Hong Kong government has stated that its citizens would not need to evacuate if there was a nuclear leak since the Taishan Nuclear Power Plant is 130 km from Hong Kong’s urban areas. Greenpeace’s Burnie disagrees, pointing out that following the Chernobyl nuclear disaster, radioactive fallout spread over a range of more than 100km, and during the Fukushima nuclear accident, local authorities thought that it might be necessary to evacuate Tokyo residents, 160 km away from the Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant.

Greenpeace senior campaigner in Hong Kong, Frances Yeung, also criticized Hong Kong officials as being irresponsible for the world’s largest capacity reactors. “How far nuclear fallout spreads depends on many factors such as weather conditions, humidity and wind direction. The Hong Kong government has never published any worst case scenario assessments of the design characteristics of Taishan Nuclear Power Plant and considered the effect of our various weather conditions. Without the correct analysis, our officials cannot in good conscious claim that Hong Kong people won’t be affected. They are showing a complete disregard for the public’s safety.”

The ASN exposed the issue with the French reactor a year ago this month and ordered the contractor to investigate. Last Wednesday, Electricité de France (EDF) announced that initial analyses conducted on parts similar to those at Flamanville 3 have shown that the carbon segregation phenomena extend beyond mid-thickness on one of them and bore out reason to continue concern. However, China’s government and the Taishan plant’s project owner, China General Nuclear Power Group, have yet to publicly clarify whether or not Taishan carries the same risk.

To protect the safety of Hong Kong’s residents and their right to know, Greenpeace demands the Hong Kong government request the Guangdong provincial government to:

  • Suspend all work on the Taishan Nuclear Power Plant until French nuclear safety authorities complete their investigation and clarify the safety issue(s);
  • Request China’s National Nuclear Safety Administration to disclose all details of their communications with the ASN; and,
  • Disclose whether Taishan Nuclear Power Plant shares the same safety issues as the power plant in Flamanville as well as clarify contingency measures and plans.

Media contacts:

Greenpeace Senior Campaigner Frances Yeung

Email:[email protected]
Phone:2854 8303

Greenpeace Communications Officer Ray Yeung

Email:[email protected]
Phone:2854 8376