Mon, Mar 21, 2005 - Page 10 News List

Nuclear reactor put in at Kungliao

MILESTONE The Japanese-built reactor, designed by General Electric, was finally put in after months of delay, in an installation overseen by a Dutch business

AP AND AFP , Kungliao,Taipei

A black tubular-shaped nuclear reactor, shown above left, is installed yesterday at the oceanside Fourth Nuclear Power Plant. The 1,350-megawatt boiling water reactor was designed by the US General Electric Co. and built by Japan's Hitachi Ltd.

PHOTO: CNA

A Japanese-built nuclear reactor was installed yesterday in an oceanside nuclear power plant in Taiwan, officials said.

The 1,350-megawatt boiling water reactor was designed by the US' General Electric Co. and built by Japan's Hitachi Ltd.

The reactor will generate less waste and run more effectively than those using older technology, said the Taiwan Power Company, which runs the plant in Kungliao, northern Taiwan.

The 1,000 tonne reactor was installed at the power plant of the state-run Taiwan Power Co (Taipower, 台電).

Dutch engineering firm Mammoet oversaw the entire installation, said Lin Yuan-teh, a Taiwan Power official.

The installation was delayed for months and the nuclear power plant may not be operational until 2008, Lin said, two years behind schedule.

A second reactor for the power plant, built by Japan's Toshiba Company, arrived in Taiwan last July. It is scheduled to be installed by the end of this year, officials said.

The reactor was installed despite safety warnings from conservationists.

Taipower Chairman Lin Ching-chi (林清吉) says the installation was a "milestone development" in the project, which is almost 60 percent completed but behind schedule.

The reactor has been on site since June 2002, the first of two planned.

However, Wu Wen-tung (吳文通), head of a Kungliao group opposing the nuclear power plant, issued a stern warning against the project, which he said "could become Taiwan's largest nightmare in the future."

"We've repeatedly called attention to the flaws of the power plant -- the civil engineering construction and the rust of the reactor. But the government has turned a blind eye to our warnings," he said.

The project has been mired in controversy for years and became a campaign point in the 2000 presidential elections which brought Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) of the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) to power.

In October 2000, the DPP scrapped the partly built US$5.6 billion plant without consulting the legislature, as required by Taiwan's Constitution, plunging the country into months of political crisis.

The DPP government opposed nuclear power on grounds of safety and difficulty in disposing of the waste, but reinstated the project in February 2001.

Because of the delay, Taipower is estimated to need another US$1.3 billion for the project, with the extra spending awaiting legislative approval.

The first nuclear reactor had been scheduled to begin operation in July 2006 and the second in July 2007, with a total capacity of 2,770 megawatts.

Since Taiwan's first nuclear plant became operational in 1987, nuclear power has generated at least 180,000 drums of low-radiation waste.

Taipower had planned to ship the waste to North Korea but was forced to halt the scheme under pressure from South Korea and international conservationists.

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