Tue, Dec 20, 2011 - Page 2 News List

NGOs have no confidence in safety of nuclear plant

TIME IS TICKING:One NGO director said solutions for several flaws at the Fourth Nuclear Power Plant would be useless unless they were implemented immediately

By Shelley Shan  /  Staff Reporter

Former Environmental Protection Administration administrator Lin Jun-yi, right, joins academics and representatives from non-governmental organizations at a press conference in Taipei yesterday to call on the government to suspend construction of the Fourth Nuclear Power Plant.

Photo: CNA

Non-governmental organizations (NGO) supervising the construction and operation of the Fourth Nuclear Power Plant said they would issue a statement of no-confidence in reaction to a safety report, to be submitted by Taiwan Power Corp (Taipower) today, which fails to tackle structural issues.

The Fourth Nuclear Power Plant Safety Oversight Committee is scheduled to hold a meeting today in Gongliao (貢寮), New Taipei City (新北市), where the plant is located. During the meeting, Taipower will brief the members on how it intends to resolve the safety problems at the plant.

Green Citizens’ Action Alliance secretary-general Tsui Shu-hsin (崔愫欣), who is also a member of the committee, said the group had received an advance copy of the report and determined that the state-run power company was not sincere in addressing safety issues.

“If you look at the report, which has already listed 30 to 40 problems from the nuclear power plant, you really question the quality of the construction,” Tsui said. “They are just minor problems and Taipower is still avoiding addressing the structural flaws.”

Tsui said former committee member Lin Tsung-yao (林宗堯) had already identified flaws in the design, construction and the operating system at the plant.

Any proposed solutions would be rendered useless if Taipower fails to stop the construction and fix these flaws immediately, she said.

While it was reported in July that electrical cables at the plant’s control room needed to be reinstalled after technicians failed to properly follow the design, Tsui said the Taipower report said nothing about why such an error had occurred.

While Taipower claimed it would hire foreign specialists to inspect the plant, Tsui said it was an excuse to avoid dealing with the fundamental problems.

She said there were 300 reports about the plant, all written in Chinese. It would take at least six months to translate those documents, and that time would not even guarantee that the translations were error-free, Tsui said.

“Taipower expects the members of the Oversight Committee to endorse the contents of the 130-page report and guarantee that the power plant is safe. We will say that we do not recognize the report and have no confidence in it,” Tsui said.

Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Legislator Tien Chiu-chin (田秋堇) said the committee passed a resolution in August that said construction of the Fourth Nuclear Power Plant should be suspended if safety problems could not be resolved

Tien added that President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) should tell the public how much more money the nation needs to spend on the plant if the nation decides to continue construction.

She said Ma promised to invite officials from the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission to inspect the plant, but they would not sign anything while they were visiting.

She said the nation would not be able to hold the officials responsible if anything happened at the plant.

Tien said Taipower had evaluated in 2000 that suspending construction would cost about NT$80 billion (US$2.63 billion).

Now it will cost more than NT$270 billion to construct the plant and make sure it is safe to run, she said.

Even though it is not yet operational, the plant had already been declared by the World Nuclear Association as one of the most dangerous in the world, she added.

A former head of the Environmental Protection Administration, Lin Jun-yi (林俊義), as well as Taipei Office of the French Center for Research on Contemporary China director Paul Jobin, said the Japanese public did not trust the statistics presented by Tokyo pertaining to the radioactive contamination following the crisis at the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power power plant, which leaked radiation following the March earthquake and tsunami.

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