State-run utility Taiwan Power Co (Taipower, 台電), which runs the nation’s three operating nuclear power plants, said on Monday it paid a high price to replace defective anchor bolts at one of the plants because of the urgency of the repairs.
Plant executives made the comment in response to questions from several lawmakers — including Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) legislators Huang Chao-shun (黃昭順) and Liao Kuo-tung (廖國棟) — amid reports that Taipower was “ripped off” by General Electric (GE) for replacement parts and service.
The lawmakers visited the Guosheng Nuclear Power Plant in Wanli District (萬里), New Taipei City (新北市), on Monday to learn more about the situation, including which manufacturers Taipower turned to and whether the problem would recur.
Plant general manager Liu Tseng-hsi (劉增喜) said seven out of the 120 anchor bolts in one of the two reactors were found to be defective during routine maintenance work, which is conducted every 18 months.
One of the bolts was broken and six others showed signs of cracking, Liu said.
Roger Chang (臧鶴年), manager of the plant’s mechanical section, said Taipower only wanted to purchase nine bolt assemblies, but manufacturers were not willing to provide such a small quantity.
Aside from GE, Taipower approached another US manufacturer, which quoted a price of US$25,000 per bolt, excluding the nut and washer, and gave a lead time of at least four weeks.
Chang said GE gave a quote of US$48,000 per set — nut, bolt and washer — and a 10-day lead time.
“We also thought it was very expensive and we were outraged,” Chang said, but added that considering the urgency of the matter, the plant could not afford to wait, and “we had to pay the price.”
According to GE, the total price for the repair and replacement of the problematic parts was US$2.92 million — including US$430,000 for the nine sets, accounting for 15 percent of the total, and 62 percent going to installation, engineering, technical support and labor costs.
Liu said that after Taipower picks up the know-how, it will be able to fix the problem if it recurs and will not have to pay such a price again.
The incident has only added to criticism of Taipower’s handling of its nuclear power facilities and to growing opposition to the use of nuclear power in the country. Several environmental groups have expressed concern in the wake of reports about problematic anchor bolts, with some calling for the plant to be shut down.