Sat, Apr 21, 2012 - Page 3 News List

Environmentalists warn of threats from nuclear plants

By Lee I-chia  /  Staff reporter

Holding black-and-white photographs of empty buses and tanks left on site and children suffering from diseases caused by exposure to nuclear radiation years after the Chernobyl nuclear disaster in 1986, environmental protection groups and legislators yesterday urged the public to be aware of possible threats from nuclear plants in the country.

The groups highlighted the issue by pointing to an incident last week in which seven broken or fractured anchor bolts were found during a routine inspection of the first reactor at the Guosheng Nuclear Power Plant in Wanli District (萬里), New Taipei City (新北市), and urged Taiwan Power Co (Taipower) to replace all 120 anchor bolts rather than replacing only the six questionable ones before it resumes operation.

“Taipower’s original proposal was to have it resume operation today. Fortunately, lawmakers at the legislature’s Education and Culture Committee denied the Atomic Energy Council’s [AEC] request for such permission,” Green Consumers Foundation chairman Jay Fang (方儉) told a press conference yesterday.

“However, it is just a temporary halt and the reactor could soon resume operation, and it is impossible to operate safely with only the few bolts replaced,” he added.

“It is the condition of the remaining 113 unrepaired anchor bolts that worries us the most,” said Hong Shen-han (洪申翰), a representative of the Green Citizens Actions Alliance.

“If the broken bolts were caused by metal fatigue, then the other 113 uncracked bolts must also be under the same conditions, and might have the same problem if it’s a matter of bad material,” he said, adding that the public was not convinced of the safety of the reactor.

“Taipower said General Electric Co [GE] had approved the safe operation of the reactor after replacing six of the seven fractured or broken anchor bolts last week,” Hong said. “However, Taipower refused to give lawmakers the analysis report by GE, saying it was confidential commercial information.”

“Please don’t treat environmental protection groups and the public like fools,” Hong said as he urged Taipower to put people’s doubts to rest and called on the AEC to guard the public’s safety by strictly monitoring Taipower.

Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Legislator Tien Chiu-chin (田秋堇) added that geologists have confirmed that an active fault — the Shanchiao fault (山腳斷層) — is located only 5km from the Guosheng Nuclear Power Plant and with a length of 40km on land and 40km or more in the sea, it is capable of triggering a magnitude 7.0 earthquake, which could cause severe damage to the plant.

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