Fri, Sep 16, 2011 - Page 2 News List

Atomic Energy Council accused of ignoring expert

‘PLAYER AND REFEREE’:Environmental expert Shih Hsin-min criticized the AEC for simultaneously taking charge of industry safety and promoting nuclear power

Staff Writer, with CNA

Taiwan Environmental Protection Union (TEPU) founding chairman Shih Hsin-min (施信民) accused the Atomic Energy Council (AEC) on Wednesday of failing to live up to its responsibilities as the country’s nuclear safety supervisor.

The council should not be both “player and referee” — promoting nuclear energy at the same time it oversees industry safety — Shih said.

He also said that the recent spate of resignations from the council’s Fourth Nuclear Power Plant Safety Oversight Committee had failed to raise ruffle any feathers at the council, because it views the committee as just an advisory body.

“Any resolution made by the committee is merely a reference for the AEC minister,” Shih said in response to former AEC deputy minister Shieh Der-jhy’s (謝得志) resignation as committee chairman and that of committee member Lin Tsung-yao (林宗堯).

Shieh’s resignation took effect on Sept. 1 and Atomic Energy Council Minister Tsai Chuen-horng (蔡春鴻) is still trying to persuade Lin, a veteran nuclear safety advocate who served as an engineer at General Electric, to withdraw his resignation, council officials said.

The two men resigned shortly after a meeting of the committee on July 29, at which Lin presented a report on construction work at the Fourth Nuclear Power Plant in Gongliao District (貢寮) of New Taipei City (新北市).

The report warned that the project had many structural flaws, including the unique digital control system which employs nearly 40,000 signal detectors.

Lin also criticized the fact that many of the contractors hired by state-run Taiwan Power Co (Taipower) have never worked on a nuclear power plant before.

Supervision at the site was almost nonexistent, he said.

Taipower had also been unable to “organize trial runs in a strict manner,” Lin said.

Construction work on the plant began in 1999 and it was originally scheduled to begin commercial operations before the end of this year, but Taipower has since announced that the plant will not become operational until next year.

As a result of Lin’s report, the committee meeting passed a non-binding resolution calling for -construction work to stop if -Taipower proved unable to rectify the flaws detailed before the end of the year.

The council denied early last month that the council had proposed the suspension of work at the plant.

On Wednesday, Shih said that although the committee is composed of experts and academics from around the country who are familiar with nuclear energy, it falls under the authority the AEC and as such only has the authority to make recommendations.

The TEPU was established two decades ago to lobby the government to transform the AEC into an “atomic energy control council” that would serve as the nation’s nuclear safety watchdog only, Lin said.

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