Sat, Jun 15, 2002 - Page 4 News List

Legislators seek probe into work on nuclear plant

CONSTRUCTION FLAWS Taipower's supervision of its contractors came under fire again yesterday as lawmakers and concerned citizens raised safety fears

By Chiu Yu-Tzu  /  STAFF REPORTER

Both lawmakers and residents of Kungliao township, Taipei County, yesterday demanded an independent task force be created to review Taiwan Power Company's (Tai-power's) lapses in supervising construction of the Fourth Nuclear Power Plant.

Their demands were prompted by the recent exposure of construction defects in a reactor pedestal for the plant. Inferior welding materials were secretly used for the second to the fifth layers of the pedestal. According to the Atomic Energy Council, about 52 percent of materials were replaced by less pressure-resistant ones.

At a press conference at the Legislative Yuan, lawmakers from across the political spectrum stressed the need for an independent task force to look into details of Taipower's awarding of contracts.

The task force, lawmakers said, should include residents of Kungliao -- where the reactor is being built -- lawmakers, environmental groups and others.

Eugene Jao (趙永清), an independent lawmaker from Taipei County, yesterday released a list of Taipower's contractors for the project. Jao said the large number of contractors raises doubts about Taipower's ability to coordinate and integrate work on the nuclear plant.

"Each of Taipower's contractors has its own subcontractors, making it impossible for Taipower to supervise each part of the construction," Jao said.

Taipower has had difficulties in providing lawmakers with a list of subcontractors and details of its mechanism of supervision, according to Jao.

PFP Legislator Lee Hung-chun (李鴻鈞) from Taipei County also questioned the company's ability to supervise construction.

"The intentional use of inferior welding materials in the pedestal's construction implies that Taipower's mechanism of construction supervision was questionable," Lee said.

DPP lawmakers Chiu Chuang-chin (邱創進) from Changhua County and Chen Chao-lung (陳朝龍) from Taipei County called for an immediate halt to plant construction to eliminate people's doubts.

Anti-nuclear residents of Kungliao said that they had reported construction defects several times but received no response.

Activists with the Kungliao-based Yenliao Anti-Nuclear Self-Help Association said yesterday that in 2000 they reported to the Environmental Protection Administration that construction waste was dumped illegally into the sea.

The waste was from a site for a wharf, where heavy machines would be transferred.

"Moreover, when we snuck into the construction site to photograph the inferior materials being used, no supervisor was there," association spokesman Wu Wen-tung (吳文通) said. "The supervisor from Taipower was found later singing karaoke with friends."

Wu said that the case was reported to Taipower but they received no response.

Saying that the government has ignored the voices of Kungliao residents for two decades, Wu sobbed at yesterday's press conference when he recalled the passing of anti-nuclear activist Chen Ching-tang (陳慶塘).

Chen, who helped pioneer the anti-nuclear movement, died last month at the age of 70 still worried about the plant's threats to Taiwanese people, Wu said.

Lawmakers said President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) would attend Chen Ching-tang's public farewell tomorrow in Kungliao. Anti-nuclear activists view President Chen as a capricious figure for his failure to fulfil his promise to scrap the plant.

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