Thu, May 24, 2012 - Page 2 News List

DPP lawmakers disrupt meeting over safety fears

By Shelley Shan  /  Staff reporter

Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) legislators yesterday boycotted a session of the legislature’s Transportation Committee because of misgivings that the Atomic Energy Council could restart the Guosheng Nuclear Power Plant in Wanli District (萬里), New Taipei City (新北市), despite safety concerns.

Inspections of the plant’s No. 1 reactor in March revealed that seven anchor bolts were broken or damaged, forcing the suspension of operations.

Atomic Energy Council Minister Tsai Chuen-horng (蔡春鴻) was scheduled to brief the committee on how Taiwan Power Co (Taipower) had repaired the bolts. However, he was unable to do so after DPP legislators disrupted the meeting by occupying the stand where the committee chair’s seat is located.

“If we allow the meeting to proceed as usual, the reactor will soon be restarted because Taipower submitted its application on Friday last week,” DPP Legislator Cheng Li-chiun (鄭麗君) said.

Tsai was then invited to brief the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) caucus.

He said the council would not compromise on safety.

“Nuclear engineers do not compromise on safety. What we lack is communication,” Tsai said. “People think we will only talk to a certain party ... We will brief any legislator who wants to hear from us. It’s our responsibility.”

Tsai said the reactor could continue to operate for 18 months without any risk.

A Taipower spokesman had told legislators on Tuesday that the company had no plans to recheck 36 anchor bolts at the reactor.

Taipower spokesman Roger Lee (李鴻洲) said there were no further safety concerns after sonar inspections of 120 anchor bolts and the replacement of the seven fractured bolts were approved by the council.

The company has not hidden anything from the public, Lee said in response to claims by Cheng and Wu Tsung-tsong (吳政忠), a professor at National Taiwan University’s Institute of Applied Mechanics, that the firm had concealed the possibility that 36 anchor bolts in the plant’s first reactor were “probably” fractured.

Cheng and Wu, neither of whom have ever seen the bolts in question, say the company fabricated the inspection results. At a press conference on Tuesday, they demanded that the council recheck the bolts and shut down the reactor until its safety has been confirmed.

Wu said the company should conduct regular monthly checks on the reactor’s bolts, while Cheng said the company should allow third-party nuclear experts to conduct inspections of the plant.

Additional reporting by CNA

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