Sat, Aug 21, 2010 - Page 2 News List

Petitioners call for nuclear plant probe

CAUTIONA spate of accidents at the Fourth Nuclear Power Plant since the start of the year has the public worried about commercial operations in October 2011

By Loa Iok-sin  /  STAFF REPORTER

Democratic Progressive Party Legislator Tien Chiu-chin, right, leads anti-nuclear power plant protesters outside the Control Yuan yesterday.

PHOTO: LIAO CHEN-HUEI, TAIPEI TIMES

Environmental activists yesterday filed a petition asking the Control Yuan to launch a probe into the Fourth Nuclear Power Plant, which is scheduled to start uranium fuel test-runs in December despite several accidents at the plant since the beginning of the year.

According to the government’s plan, the nuclear plant will begin commercial operations on Oct. 10 next year to coincide with the 100th anniversary of the founding of the Republic of China.

Prior to this, test-runs with uranium fuel will start in December. However, environmentalists have expressed concern following several accidents at the plant, which has been conducting test operations without nuclear fuel since the beginning of the year.

In March, various equipment at the plant — including the alarm system — lost power because of a battery breakdown or overheating.

In May, its computer system broke down, with some parts overheating because of static electricity when a cleaner used a brush to wipe off dust.

Last month, a complete blackout lasting 28 hours — well over the plant’s maximum eight-hour blackout tolerance capacity — occurred. Some nuclear scientists have said that such a long blackout could damage reactors and lead to a radiation leak.

Earlier this month, the plant suffered a partial loss of power when rainwater penetrated junction boxes that are supposed to be sealed.

“What happened really worries us, especially knowing that a large part of the Fourth Nuclear Power Plant’s original design has been altered,” Taiwan Environmental Protection Union chairman Wang Chun-hsiu (王俊秀) said. “Taiwan Power Co should take more time to carefully assess and examine the plant and its impact on the environment before deciding on a date to start operations.”

“The Atomic Energy Council should make a decisions based solely on scientific evidence — not political considerations,” he said.

Democratic Progressive Party Legislator Tien Chiu-chin (田秋堇) warned of the consequences in case of a serious accident at the plant.

“Given the short distance between Taipei County’s Gongliao Township (貢寮) [where the power plant is located] and Taipei, a serious accident would not only pollute the beautiful beaches in Gongliao, but also the capital city,” Tien said. “That could mean a complete collapse of the economy, the government and even the destruction of the country.”

Control Yuan member Huang Huang-hsiung (黃煌雄) accepted the petition and promised to launch a probe into the issue.

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