Sat, Mar 19, 2011 - Page 3 News List

JAPAN DISASTER: Multiple disaster drills to be held

CLARITY KEY:Ma told authorities to use plain language, not technical jargon, to explain the government’s actions in response to the Japanese crisis and avoid confusion

Staff Writer, with CNA

The government would hold multiple disaster drills in seven cities and counties in the wake of the earthquake and tsunami that ravaged northeastern Japan on March 11, Premier Wu Den-yih (吳敦義) said yesterday.

Speaking at a legislative hearing, Wu said that because Taiwan had not experienced a nuclear power-related accident in several years, past drills had been held in a perfunctory manner.

However, in line with a comment by President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) that “drills are not shows,” Wu said the Executive Yuan would make major improvements in upgrading Taiwan’s capability to deal with multiple disasters.


The government would hold major “multiple disaster” drills in New Taipei City (新北市), Greater Kaohsiung, Keelung City and Pingtung, Taitung, Hualien and Yilan counties sometime after Thursday, he said.

Wu was responding to calls by Democratic Progressive Party Legislator Pan Men-an (潘孟安) that the Executive Yuan conduct a thorough review of the nation’s nuclear power plants and hold large-scale safety drills nationwide.

Taiwan has three nuclear power plants in operation and another under construction, and Wu said that the active plants would be better suited to dealing with a similar natural disaster than the troubled plant in Japan.

The crisis at the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant in the northeast of Japan was caused by a 10m tsunami triggered by a massive earthquake, but Taiwan’s three active plants are all between 12m and 15m above ground, Wu said, and he cited experts as saying that the possibility of accidents was fairly low.


“But the government will make the best preparations possible for the worst-case scenario,” Wu said.

“The government normally does a thorough review of nuclear safety every 10 years. This time, we’ll conduct the reviews of the four nuclear power plants as soon as possible,” he said.

Earlier yesterday, Ma reassured the public about the nation’s safety from radioactive contamination from Japan’s nuclear power plants and urged people not to panic.

Ma also instructed the authorities to use plain language rather than technical jargon to clearly explain what the government has done or is prepared to do in reaction to Japan’s nuclear crisis.

“We should get people to understand that the chance of radioactive contamination affecting Taiwan is low. There is no need to panic, which can disrupt normal life,” he said during a high-level meeting held in response to the earthquake and tsunami in Japan.

Ma said the nuclear disaster in Japan has of course raised doubts about the safety of nuclear energy. Under these circumstances, he said, the government should seek to strengthen the safety standards of Taiwan’s three existing nuclear power plants and the fourth that is still under construction.


Also, the government should avoid situations that could cause misunderstandings or misgivings among the public, Ma said.

One such example was a recent drill conducted at the First Nuclear Power Plant in Shihmen District (石門), New Taipei City (新北市), during which an anti-tsunami flood gate embarrassingly failed to function, he said.

The government needs to reflect on the cause of the problem, which, according to Ma, could have been avoided.

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