Probe of fault lines near plant requested

GEOLOGICAL CONCERNS::Lawmakers want to know how far fault lines near the Fourth Nuclear Power Plant extend, as global practice requires a fault to be at least 8km away

By Camaron Kao  /  Staff reporter

Thu, Apr 18, 2013 - Page 13

The legislature’s Economics Committee yesterday passed resolutions asking the Ministry of Economic Affairs (MOEA) to investigate the geological condition of areas around the Fourth Nuclear Power Plant to ease public concern about the safety of the plant.

The resolution came after legislators criticized the Atomic Energy Council and Taiwan Power Co’s (Taipower, 台電) lack of action in carrying out new research after evidence emerged about fault lines near the site of the plant in Gongliao District (貢寮), New Taipei City (新北市).

“In 1997, National Central University found that the Yilan Fault (宜蘭斷層) extended north to within 10 kilometers of the plant’s site, but Taipower and the council still claim there is no new evidence” of fault lines, Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Legislator Tien Chiu-chin (田秋堇) said.

Tien cited a report by the Ministry of Transportation and Communications that six fault lines were found running northeast to the Hsuehshan Tunnel (雪山隧道), which is 16km from the plant.

She said further research was necessary to ascertain how far these fault lines extend.

There are also three to four active faults close to the plant, and no research is being conducted about them, National Taiwan University professor Chen Wen-shan (陳文山) said.

MOEA officials agreed to conduct more geological studies near the plant, but said they could not guarantee the research could be completed before the government holds a planned referendum on continuing work on the plant.

“We will do as the committee demands, but the schedule of the referendum will not be affected,” Minister of Economic Affairs Chang Chia-juch (張家祝) said on the sidelines of yesterday’s question-and-answer session at the legislature.

Taipower officials also agreed.

“It would take at least half a year to review existing reports, let alone conduct new studies, but we will do what we should do, regardless of the referendum’s result,” Taipower chairman Hwang Jung-chiou (黃重球) said.

Taipower also agreed to consider making its reports about the plant available to local geologists after criticism from academics.

“Access to information about the Fourth Nuclear Power Plant is limited, and I have only been able to read the reports because of DPP Legislator Lin Chia-lung (林佳龍),” said Lee Chao-shing (李昭興), a professor at National Taiwan Ocean University.

Lee said information in the reports about the plant was also problematic.

For instance, a report described the Fangjiao Fault (枋腳斷層), which runs under the plant, in terms of “low velocity layer” and “fracture zones,” Lee said.

International practice requires that a nuclear power plant not be built within 8km of a fault line, DPP Legislator Huang Wei-cher (黃偉哲) said.