Initial research results evaluating the potential impact of an earthquake--generated tsunami on the nation’s nuclear power plants have suggested that tsunamis triggered by tremors from ocean trenches and fault-line movements would not directly impact on the power plants, the National Science Council (NSC) said yesterday.
National Science Council Deputy Minister Chen Cheng-hong (陳政宏), a geology expert, said following the devastating earthquake and tsunami that occurred in northeastern Japan on March 11, the council gathered academics to study the parameters — the seismic origins and upper magnitude of a potential earthquake — and examine the impact of a potential tsunami on Taiwan’s nuclear power plants in a bid to evaluate the possible damage caused should events similar to those in Japan take place here.
Chen said the March 11 earthquake was the result of two large plates colliding.
As Taiwan is located along the borders of two smaller plates — the Eurasian Plate and the Philippine Sea Plate — the fault lines around the country are therefore shorter and less likely to release an amount of energy as large as that of Japan’s March 11 earthquake, Chen said.
SAFE FROM FLOODING
Project member Wu Tso-ren (吳祚任), an assistant professor at National Central University’s Graduate Institute of Hydrological and Oceanic Sciences, said that according to the results of simulations on 18 sets of sea trenches and four sets of fault lines near Taiwan, in addition to the use of the Cornell Multi-grid Coupled Tsunami Model, the nation’s nuclear power plants were safe from flooding.
However, if an earthquake of magnitude 9.0 or greater was to occur along the northern segment of the Manila Trench, Ma-anshan Nuclear Power Plant, located in Ma-anshan (馬鞍山), Pingtung County, could be hit by a 10m tsunami, Wu said.
This would not be high enough to reach the facility’s control rooms, which are 15m above sea level, but could still pose a risk to the plant, Wu added.
The academics said that the initial results were generated from two-dimensional simulations, adding that the research team will conduct three--dimensional simulations in the near future to provide the government with flood reference data.