Wed, Mar 16, 2011 - Page 1 News List

Activists vow action if work on fourth plant continues

By Shelley Shan  /  Staff Reporter

Environmental activists yesterday vowed to stage a large-scale protest if the government does not immediately suspend the construction of the Fourth Nuclear Power Plant, as well as re-examine the nation’s three operational nuclear power plants.

Saying that Taiwan would be hopeless if the incident at Japan’s Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant happened here, Green Party Taiwan spokesperson Pan Han-shen (潘翰聲) said the residents of Gongliao District (貢寮), New Taipei City (新北市), where the Fourth Nuclear Power Plant is located, would hold a demonstration in front of the Executive Yuan tomorrow morning, demanding an immediate suspension to the power plant’s construction.

Those planning to join election primaries for legislators representing Taipei City and New Taipei City should tell the voters where they stand on this issue, he added.

Pan’s avowal was made at a press conference held by Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) legislators Tien Chiu-chin (田秋堇), Lin Shu-fen (林淑芬) and Huang Sue-ying (黃淑英).

At the press conference, Tien played what she said was a recorded conversation between an engineer of the state-run Taiwan Power Co (Taipower, 台電) and his supervisor. According to the tape, the engineer was pressured by his supervisor to pay the contractor, who only partially followed the original design of the protective facilities at the Fourth Nuclear Power Plant — also known as the Longmen Nuclear Power Plant — laid out by General Electric Co.

Gloria Hsu (徐光蓉), a professor at National Taiwan University (NTU), accused Taipower of changing the original design at its discretion and even skimping on construction materials. For example, Hsu said, the company replaced the heat-resistant gaskets with plastic ones.

“After what happened at Fukushima, many countries around the world are re-examining the soundness of their nuclear power plants,” she said. “Only the Taiwanese government acts like this is no big deal.”

Referring to remarks made by Atomic Energy Council Deputy Minister Huang Tsing-tung (黃慶東) during a legislative session on Monday that the nation’s nuclear power plants were built on stable bedrock, making them as solid as the “lotus-shaped pedestal supporting the goddess Guanyin,” Hsu questioned why the government officials could be so confident to say that the nation would not see a nuclear power crisis similar to that of Fukushima.

“Japan, Russia and the US have all seen nuclear power accidents happen in their own countries. We purchased the power plant facilities from the US and we ended up having more faith in these facilities. This is ridiculous,” Hsu said.

Hsu also said the nation’s operational plants — Jinshan, -Guosheng and Ma-anshan nuclear power plants — were built to withstand a peak ground acceleration (PGA) of 0.3G. However, the government raised the PGA to 0.33G after the 921 earthquake in 1999. The facilities do not follow this updated regulation, she said.

Shih Shin-min (施信民), also of NTU, stressed the importance of raising the fourth plant’s ability to cope with the impact of earthquakes. Instead of a magnitude 7 quake, the power plant must be able to withstand a magnitude 9 earthquake, he said.

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