Tsunami floodgates to seal the nation’s nuclear power plants could take as long as 30 minutes to close, the Atomic Energy Council (AEC) said yesterday, adding that it would review the situation.
AEC Minister Tsai Chuen-horng (蔡春鴻) addressed the issue of shutting down the plants in the event of a tsunami during a legislative committee meeting amid public concerns about the stricken Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant in Japan, which was damaged by a tsunami triggered by a powerful earthquake on Friday.
Tsai said the floodgates of Taiwan’s Jinshan Nuclear Power Plant in Shihmen District (石門), New Taipei City (新北市), required 30 minutes to close fully, while the gates at the Ma-anshan Nuclear Power Plant in Ma-anshan (馬鞍山), Pingtung County, took 10 minutes to seal.
However, he said the -Guosheng Nuclear Power Plant in Wanli (萬里), New Taipei City, and the still-under-construction Longmen nuclear power plant in Gongliao District (貢寮), New Taipei City, were sealed and did not require floodgates.
“The AEC will review the problem of the time required to seal the first [Jinshan] nuclear power plant in the event of a tsunami,” Tsai said.
He also said the council had a stockpile of 120,000 boxes of iodine tablets, which should be “sufficient for emergency use by residents living within 5km of -nuclear power plants” in the event of a catastrophe.
If the supply was insufficient, emergency purchases could be made within five days, Tsai said.
He also said the council would provide residents living in the vicinity of the Longmen nuclear power plant with additional iodine tablets in the coming days.
The council said it distributed the tablets in 2004 to residents living within 5km of the nuclear power plants, with each household receiving a two-day ration. The tablets are viable for 10 years.
The latest distributions will be for residents who have lost their tablets, the council said.
Meanwhile, President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) visited the Jinshan Nuclear Power Plant, which began commercial operations in December 1978.
Presidential Office spokesman Lo Chih-chiang (羅智強) said Ma, concerned about Taiwan’s nuclear safety, canceled his original schedule in order to make an inspection tour of the power plant.
Ma, who made the visit to review the facilities and safety measures in person, reminded the authorities to always be alert to the chance of possible incidents, Lo said.
He said that Ma was also concerned that the unfolding nuclear crisis in Japan could affect Taiwan and had ordered a full-scale safety screening of the nation’s three operational nuclear power plants.