Following the release of a paper by a nuclear engineer questioning the safety of the Fourth Nuclear Power Plant in Gongliao (貢寮), New Taipei City (新北市), and an announcement by President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) that operations at the plant would start in 2014, environmental groups rallied outside the Presidential Office yesterday and urged the president to call off the plant’s construction.
Holding up banners with slogans such as “The Fourth Nuclear Power Plant is the most dangerous nuclear power plant” and “Stop the construction now,” dozens of activists demonstrated in front of the Taipei First Girls High School about 100m from the Presidential Office in Taipei.
“The safety of the Fourth Nuclear Power Plant is being questioned again since Lin Tsung-yao (林宗堯), a nuclear engineer and a member of the Advisory Committee on Nuclear Facility Safety to the Atomic Energy Council, released a paper questioning the safety of the power plant,” Green Citizens’ Action Alliance secretary--general Hung Shen-han (洪申翰) told protesters and journalists at the scene.
“He went as far as to warn that the ongoing construction of the power plant was a ‘total failure,’” Hung said.
In the paper, titled Essay on the Fourth Nuclear Power Plant (核四論), Lin wrote that since the construction was outsourced to several different companies, there were some serious “connectivity” issues that led to not only errors and mistakes in construction, but also problems during trial operations, including unexpected stops of the reactor.
Following the release of the paper, the council’s Department of Nuclear Regulation Deputy Director Chen Yi-pin (陳宜彬) openly criticized Taiwan Power Corp (Taipower), the operator of the nation’s nuclear power plants, over its ability to handle nuclear safety issues.
“If Taipower doesn’t improve itself, the construction [of the Fourth Nuclear Power Plant] would be better off if it’s suspended,” Chen said.
Despite the many warnings, Hung said, Ma has insisted in recent interviews with two Japanese newspapers that the Fourth Nuclear Power Plant should be completed and begin operations in 2014.
“Even Premier Wu Den-yih (吳敦義) and the Ministry of Economic Affairs have stopped talking about when to begin operations. It’s very inappropriate for the president to make such an announcement,” Hung said. “We’re worried that the president’s announcement may put Taipower under pressure and it will rush the construction and create more problems.”
He added that environmentalists from other countries have been shocked to learn that there will be three nuclear power plants around Taipei once the Fourth Nuclear Power Plant is completed.
“When a large-scale nuclear disaster happens, Ma would very likely become a victim within 30 minutes if he is in office,” Hung said.
Green Party Taiwan spokesman Pan Han-shen (潘翰聲) called on the government to halt the construction of the Fourth Nuclear Power Plant and suspend operations at the nation’s other nuclear power plants.
“The completion of the Fourth Nuclear Power Plant would only push Taiwan one step closer to a nuclear disaster,” Pan said.
“We should seek renewable energy sources instead,” the party’s spokesman added.
The activists took their petition to the Presidential Office, where it was accepted by a public relations officer surnamed Liu (劉), who promised to deliver it to the president.