Nuclear plant performs well in safety review: MOEA

LESSON LEARNED::Taipower’s vice president said it is taking steps to avoid repeating the mistakes that had led to the meltdown at Japan’s Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear plant

By Helen Ku  /  Staff reporter

Tue, Sep 10, 2013 - Page 1

The Fourth Nuclear Power Plant in New Taipei City’s (新北市) Gongliao District (貢寮) has installed three diesel-powered backup electricity generators for emergency purposes, the Ministry of Economic Affairs (MOEA) said yesterday.

The ministry said the generators ensured that the plant can keep running in the event of a power cut during an earthquake or other natural disasters.

“The generators’ installation is being completed and they have performed well in several rounds of testing,” Taiwan Power Co (Taipower, 台電) vice president Chen Pu-tsan (陳布燦) told a press conference.

“With the generators, we are aiming to avoid repeating the mistakes made at Japan’s Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant after the tsunami-earthquake on March 11, 2011, which caused a power cut that led to a radiation leak,” he added.

The remarks by the ministry and Taipower followed the release of an interim report assessing the Gongliao facility’s safety. The ministry said it hopes to present a final report in six months.

In April, the ministry invited eight academics to form a task force to evaluate the plant’s safety and ease public concern.

Over the past five months, task force members visited the Taipower plant to check whether the company is adhering to standard building procedures in its construction.

The task force has conducted three major safety tests on the power plant and solved most technical issues detected, the ministry added.

The task force also carried out evaluations on vital equipment, including vacuum cleaners, large-sized turbines and steam turbine generators, that all yielded positive results, according to the report.

However, Robert Tsai (蔡維綱), an individual consultant hired by the ministry and a former employee at US-based electricity and natural gas supplier Exelon Corp, said Taipower should continue fixing some “trivial issues” in their management of the nuclear facility.

“I give credit to Taipower for its careful communication efforts and professionalism,” Tsai said.

“Still, Taipower has many small communication problems that could have been avoided during the build up to operating the power plant, and also failed to complete a thorough re-assessment of itself, which is crucial in engineering projects,” he added.

Minister of Economic Affairs Chang Chia-juch (張家祝) said the task force will take Tsai’s comments into account when making more suggestions to the company.

Chang said the task force’s evaluation should not be related to the proposed referendum to determine the fate of the plant, adding that Taipower should stick to its construction plan and report to the Executive Yuan’s Atomic Energy Council regardless of the poll.