What Is Framatome? Company That Reported Taishan Nuclear Power Plant Leak in China

French engineering company Framatome has raised concerns about a possible leak at a Chinese nuclear power plant that it part-owns.

Framatome, which supplies equipment to nuclear facilities across the world, reached out to the U.S. on June 8 to ask them to assist with the alleged issue at the Taishan Nuclear Power Plant in the Guangdong province, warning of an "imminent radiological threat," according to U.S. officials who spoke to CNN.

The company's warning letter accused the plant of raising the limit on an acceptable amount of radiation detected outside of the plant to stop it getting shut down, but government sources told CNN that the Biden administration does not believe that the issue is yet at a "crisis level."

The outlet reported that the U.S. would not have been involved in the situation were not for Framatome getting in contact with them to ask for assistance.

The concern raised by the French company could have consequences in the weeks ahead, especially if the U.S. decides to provide assistance amid rising tensions with China—but what is Framatome and what does the company do?

What is Framatome?

Framatome, which is mainly owned by the French utility company Électricité de France (EDF), was founded in 1958 to license a pressurized water reactor (PWR) created by the American manufacturing company Westinghouse.

The company grew in size quickly, and was selected as France's sole manufacturer of nuclear power plants in 1975.

It has had several different owners in its short history, having been run in this century alone by German company Siemens and French nuclear power specialists Areva NP, before the majority of the firm was sold to EDF in 2017.

Framatome's website states that nuclear power is the third-largest industrial sector in France and that parent company EDF has the largest nuclear fleet in the world with 56 in-service reactors.

The company, which has 7,500 employees and 18 sites across France covering "Nuclear Steam Supply System design, supply, construction, maintenance and modernization," exports its products across the world to China, South Korea, South Africa, the U.S. and several countries in Europe.

Framatome describes its mission as wanting to be "the leading designer and supplier of nuclear steam supply systems, equipment, services and fuel, continuously striving to reach the highest levels of performance and safety."

It says that it attempts to achieve this by "setting the standard for commercial and operational excellence, both in manufacturing and project execution, and ensuring a high level of safety" and by "giving our employees the professional skills they need and upholding their engagement in our demanding and fulfilling work environment."

Framatome's parent company EDF partly owns nuclear reactors across the world, including a 30 percent stake in the Taishan Nuclear Power Plant that it recently raised safety concerns about.

Alongside its total of 9 sites in China, Framatome offers "maintenance services to the Taishan 1 and 2 power plants," after EDF set it up in collaboration with the China General Nuclear Power Group (CGNPC) in 2009.

Although the Biden administration has told Framatome that it does not believe the alleged issue at the Taishan plant is at "crisis level," it is likely that the company will keep pushing for assistance in line with its core values.

Framatome states on the "ethics" section of its website that "there is absolutely no room for compromise on safety and security in our industry and that is the way it must stay. They are the guarantees of Framatome's future."

Newsweek has contacted Framatome for comment.

Framatome raised concerns of a radiation leak
Employees of the French nuclear reactor manufacturer Framatome production site in Le Creusot, central France, listen to French President's address during his visit on December 8, 2020. French engineering company Framatome has raised concerns of a possible leak at a Chinese nuclear power plant that it part-owns. LAURENT CIPRIANI/Pool/AFP via Getty Images