Democratic Progressive Party Legislator Cheng Li-chun (鄭麗君) yesterday called for the Control Yuan to exercise its power of impeachment and provide a legal basis for construction of the controversial Fourth Nuclear Power Plant to be stopped.
Cheng issued the call after local media reports yesterday said that the yet-to-be-completed Fourth Nuclear Power Plant in Gongliao District (貢寮), New Taipei City (新北市), has stepped up the pace of preparations to conduct tests.
Cheng added that she received a complaint from one of the workers at the plant, who said that Taiwan Power Co (Taipower), which operates the nation’s nuclear plants, has been calling on employees to be ready for 24-hour shifts to test various equipment in the plant.
Cheng alleged that Taipower was treating the workers like “a kamikaze team” to put the nuclear fuel rods in place and start the plant’s commercial operations.
“However, as the plant’s construction process could not persuade the public that it is safe, starting the plant will not be safe either,” she added.
Saying that Taipower has been censured by the Control Yuan no less than 10 times over the two decades of the plant’s construction, Cheng lambasted the company and said that “no large public construction has been so determined to get finished after being censured so many times.”
Cheng called on Control Yuan President Wang Chien-shien (王建煊) to act and use the Control Yuan’s power to impeach government officials as a legal basis for halting the plant’s construction.
In response, Taipower chief nuclear energy engineer Chai Fu-feng (蔡富豐) said yesterday that the nuclear power plant has now progressed to the phase where all systems are undergoing testing.
“We need to simulate actual circumstances in the tests to see whether the system is able to run for a long time, particularly the diesel power generators,” Chai said, adding that this was the reason for the company conducting 16-hour and 24-hour tests.
Some of the ongoing construction has been stopped to accommodate the trial runs, Chai said, adding that this was a normal procedure.
The quality of the construction will not be affected by the trial runs, Chai added.
Taipower yesterday also issued a statement, saying that prior to installing any fuel rods, the company would invite the World Association of Nuclear Operators to send a team of experts to evaluate the plant before it would be started up for commercial operations.
The Atomic Energy Council has also stated its intention of inviting the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, an independent regulatory agency under the US government, to assist in the joint review process before fuel rod installation, the statement said.
It added that the council is responsible for ensuring that the plant meets all legal requirements and is safe to run before giving the green light for the installation of fuel rods.
Additional reporting by Lin Yi-chang