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Fri, Oct 29, 1999 - Page 3 News List

Activists ask for delay of nuke plant

NUCLEAR POWER Legislators who visited the site of the plant have noticed things that have prompted them to ask for a halt in construction


Local residents in Kungliao are concerned over the safety of the construction of Taiwan's fourth nuclear power plant.


Anti-nuclear environmentalists and legislators called for a delay of the construction the island's fourth nuclear power plant after locating several problems during a field investigation yesterday.

Taiwan Power Company (台灣1q?O?膝q) officials, however, assured the protesters that safety and quality control requirements were all being met in the construction of the plant in Kungliao (貢寮), Taipei County.

Following the 921 earthquake last month, lawmakers and environmentalists have asked for a comprehensive review of the safety of Taiwan's three existing nuclear power plants.

In addition, they have also urged the government to reconsider plans for a fourth nuclear power plant, which is located near five known fault lines.

DPP lawmakers Lin Chung-mo (林-威?/CHINESE>), Stephen Chung (鍾金|?/CHINESE>) and KMT lawmaker Chen Ching-pao(3?M寶) inspected the site yesterday and asked Taipower officials to provide essential information regarding geologic structures at the site and proof that the new plant is being build to withstand earthquakes.

"The plant is designed to resist big earthquakes. But we don't think a devastating tremor like the 921 earthquake would happen here because the five faults nearby have been identified as inactive," said Lin Chu-wan (林居萬), Taipower's site manager of the Lungmen construction office (龍門施?u3B) in Kungliao.

According to Taipower, the construction of the plant, initiated last year, is currently 29 percent complete and will be finished by 2005. So far, the company has invested NT$36.4 billion in the project.

Although earthquake-sensing equipment has yet to be established at the site, Lin said that several instruments have been set up to monitor construction conditions, including pressure, tension, and displacement to ensure safety.

During the field investigation, the three lawmakers observed problems such as rusty reinforcing bars and seawater seeping into the foundation of the plant, which has long worried residents living nearby. Residents in the area have asked that construction of the plant be suspended.

"We don't think it's a good idea to continue construction until the confusion that local residents feel is dispelled," said DPP lawmaker Lin.

However, Taipower officials said that the things the lawmakers were concerned about were actually within guidelines.

"We engineers think the current situation (the existence of rust on reinforce bars) is allowable," Taipower's Lin said.

In addition, Lin that said groundwater around the site has been monitored carefully to see if any seawater has penetrated the construction site.

However, activists from the Taiwan Environmental Protection Union (台灣環保聯盟) pointed out that white spots on the wall where the nuclear reactor is to be built could be evidence of seawater seepage.

Taipower has been using nuclear power as one of its energy sources since 1964.

However, building nuclear power plants has become a tedious process as disputes between the government and environmentalists have become common-place.

It wasn't until 1978 that the first nuclear power plant started operating.

Since then, environmental activists have brought several controversial environmental protection issues to light, including the death of clustered coral near hot waste water discharge pipes from plants and other coastal ecology problems.

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