To protect the coastline near a wharf built to receive heavy equipment for the Fourth Nuclear Power Plant, the government is considering partly removing two breakwaters near the wharf, Public Construction Commission Vice Chairman Kuo Ching-chiang (郭清江) said yesterday.
Kuo said the change to the wharf's design would not affect the planned starting date of the plant's operations.
The wharf, enclosed by the two breakwaters, is designed to accommodate heavy machinery on its way to the construction site of the nuclear plant in Kungliao Township.
Last month, Taiwan Power Company, the operator of the plant, unloaded a 1,007-tonne nuclear pressure vessel from the wharf, which is key to the company's plan to meet its target of July 2006.
The wharf, however, has been a bone of contention not only with local residents but also environmentalists since 2000 for the impact it has had on nearby Fulung Beach.
In April, a Cabinet task force investigating coastal erosion near the wharf concluded that the loss of sand at the beach could be attributed to stress to the environment caused by construction of the wharf. Late last month, the task force came up with three possible solutions.
According to Kuo, the first idea -- having Taipower supply sand to the beach -- was opposed by local residents, who could no longer tolerate the continuing loss of sand.
Kungliao-based Northeast Coast National Scenic Area Administration Tourism Bureau under the Ministry of Transportation and Communications, which administers Fulong Beach, is also concerned about the deteriorating coastal environment. According to ministry officials, the beach is about 50cm lower than before, attracting fewer tourists.
Kuo said the second idea -- rebuilding the wharf and associated buildings at a cost of NT$15 billion -- might be too expensive for Taipower.
A possible solution, Kuo said, is the combination of the these two ideas -- pulling down half of the two breakwaters and having Taipower supply sand to replace lost sand at the beach.
"This could be a solution because of its low cost and because it is environmentally friendly," Kuo said.
Kuo said that the Cabinet had demanded an evaluation of the third option from Taipower, which will reply in a few weeks. The project would cost about NT$1.2 billion.
Kuo said a change in the design of the wharf would not affect the launch of the plant's operations because it would not be completed until after 2005.
Taipower officials said that changing the design of the wharf was not an easy task. It plans to import the second reactor from Japan before any changes to the wharf are made.
"The second nuclear pressure vessel will be transferred no later than early next year in order to start generating power in 2007," said Lin Yuan-te (林源得), Taipower's deputy manager for the Lungmen Construction Office in Kungliao.