Wed, Jun 02, 2004 - Page 4 News List

Nuclear reactor's arrival riles activists

CNA , TAIPEI

Taipower, builder and operator of the Fourth Nuclear Power Plant, rebutted allegations yesterday that the second of two reactors for the plant is defective.

Taipower officials said the newly built reactor, expected to be delivered from Japan before the end of this month, is safe and was built under strict manufacturing standards.

"There will be no safety worries regarding the reactor since there is a full series of production- and test-run records, as well as certificates issued by a number of companies responsible for accreditation," the officials said.

They said that the second reactor for the Fourth Nuclear Power Plant was designed by General Electric (GE) and built by Hitachi and Toshiba, like the first reactor. Full documentation for production- and test-runs complied with the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) Codes and Standards, and the reactors had passed security and operational checks by engineers from GE and Taipower as well, they said.

The advanced boiling water reactor (ABWR) is the same model as the sixth and seventh ABWRs installed in the Tokyo Power Company's Kashiwazaki-Kariwa nuclear power plant in Japan's Niigata prefecture.

Japanese and Taiwanese anti-nuclear activists have threatened to disrupt the delivery of the second ABWR from Japan to Taiwan, saying that the reactors at the Kashiwazaki-Kariwa facility had eight "reactor trips" in the first three-and-a-half years of operation after 1996, mostly as a result of cracks in fuel rods.

A "reactor trip" is an unscheduled shutdown that avoids overheating. Causes of reactor trips vary from mechanical to human error to acts of nature.

To avoid problems, Taipower officials said they were ensuring that the designs, materials and manufacturing processes for the two ABWRs for the Fourth Nuclear Power Plant were being changed or modified.

Taipower officials denied that the postponement of the ABWR's delivery from this Friday to the end of this month was the result of recent announcements by Taiwanese and Japanese anti-nuclear groups that they would protest its arrival in Kungliao, Taipei County.

The NoNuke Taiwan Union lodged a protest last Friday against the delivery of the second ABWR.

Union executive director Ho Tsung-hsun (何宗勳) said that several environmental protection activist groups in Taiwan and Japan were launching joint protests.

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