Mon, May 09, 2011 - Page 2 News List

Nuclear power plants reviewed

NUCLEAR OPTION:Officials from Taiwan and China yesterday discussed a cross-strait cooperation and communication mechanism to address nuclear energy safety issues

Staff Writer, with CNA

Taiwan will assess whether it should shut down any of its three active nuclear power plants after the completion of related reviews, Atomic Energy Council (AEC) Minister Tsai Chuen-horng (蔡春鴻) said.

Tsai said the council has asked Taiwan Power Co, which operates the nuclear power plants, to conduct a survey of the Sanchiao (山腳) and Hengchun (恆春) fault lines.

The Sanchiao fault line is located between the first and second nuclear power plants in New Taipei City (新北市), while the Hengchun fault line is not far from the third nuclear power plant in the south.

The surveys are expected to take two years, Tsai said.

The National Science Council is also conducting a nationwide earthquake source survey, which is to be completed at the end of the year.

“We have to wait for the completion of all these surveys to be able to work out a strategy on dealing with multiple disasters such as the combination of an earthquake and tsunami,” Tsai said.

He was responding to reports that Japanese Prime Minister Naoto Kan had ordered the shutdown of the aging Hamaoka nuclear power plant southwest of Tokyo because of its location near a tectonic fault line.

Seismologists have warned that a major quake is long overdue in the Tokai region southwest of Tokyo where the Hamaoka plant is located, about 200km from Tokyo in Shizuoka Prefecture.

Japanese authorities, including the country’s science ministry, have concluded that the possibility of a magnitude 8 earthquake hitting the area within the next 30 years is 87 percent, Kan said.

Meanwhile, officials from Taiwan and China yesterday discussed a cross-strait cooperation and communication mechanism to address nuclear energy safety issues.

Liu Hua (劉華), director of China’s Nuclear Safety and Radioactive Environment Management Department, said he fully supports the signing of a cross-strait nuclear energy safety agreement and the establishment of an official hotline on the issue.

Speaking at a nuclear safety seminar, Liu said Taiwan’s and China’s state-owned power companies have exchanged nuclear power technology over the past several years, but realized the importance of closer cooperation on the issue in the wake of Japan’s nuclear crisis.

“Cross-strait dialogue on nuclear safety will be raised to an official level,” he said at the seminar.

The seminar was one of eight conferences being held during a cross-strait economic and cultural forum organized by the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) and the Chinese Communist Party that opened on Saturday in Chengdu, China.

Also speaking at the seminar, Chen Pu-tsan (陳布燦), a Taipower department director in charge of nuclear energy safety, said both Taiwan and China are members of the World Association of Nuclear Operators (WANO) and have maintained regular exchanges under the WANO framework on nuclear technology and equipment maintenance.

Several Taipower officials met their counterparts recently and reached a consensus on establishing an information exchange platform on nuclear energy safety in the near future, he said.

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