Tue, Mar 19, 2013 - Page 14 News List

Experts to inspect power plant safety, minister says

EXTERNAL EXPERTS:A former AEC committee member is to be invited to be part of the team conducting safety checks and inspections at the Fourth Nuclear Power Plant

Staff writer, with CNA

The Ministry of Economic Affairs has invited non-governmental experts to assist with safety checks and tests of the almost-completed Fourth Nuclear Power Plant in New Taipei City’s (新北市) Gongliao District (貢寮), Minister of Economic Affairs Chang Chia-juch (張家祝) said yesterday.

The safety review and tests are to begin on April 2, Chang said while answering reporters’ questions before attending a hearing of the Legislative Yuan’s Economics Committee.

Asked when the tests and checks would be completed, he cited Lin Tsung-yao (林宗堯), a former member of the Fourth Nuclear Power Safety Monitoring Committee at the Atomic Energy Council (AEC), as saying: “In about six months.”

Lin, who formerly worked as an engineer at US-based General Electric Co, quit the AEC committee in September 2011, two months after he published a 5,000-word report detailing problems at the power plant.

The problems, Lin said in his report, center on issues with the initial design, procurement problems, hasty construction, tests run by inexperienced personnel and ineffective monitoring mechanisms.

Lin will be one of the “external experts” invited to do the safety checks and tests.

During the hearing, Chang voiced his support for a proposal by lawmakers to set up a special legislative committee to address issues concerning nuclear-energy safety.

Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Legislator Ting Shou-chung (丁守中) brought up the proposal, which he said has won the endorsement of 92 of the 113 lawmakers.

Chang said that he hoped that the proposed special committee will be made up of “genuine experts,” instead of people representing organizations that might have vested interests.

Ting said such a special legislative committee could conduct a probe into the nuclear power plant and deliver the results to a plenary session of the legislature for a vote that would eventually decide whether the controversial project should be scrapped.

That way, there would be no need to hold an “energy and money-consuming” referendum on the issue, Ting said.

Meanwhile, internal KMT sources revealed earlier in the day a plan for executive members of the party and members of a KMT policy presentation conference to visit the plant on Friday to be briefed on the disputed facility.

Citing KMT Vice Chairman Tseng Yung-chuan (曾永權), the sources said the transparency of information related to the nuclear power plant is “very important.”

The party is organizing a tour to inspect every aspect of the long-running nuclear power project, Tseng said.

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