An online petition protesting against the government’s approval to reactivate the No. 1 reactor at the Guosheng Nuclear Power Plant in Wanli District (萬里), New Taipei City (新北市), has gained thousands of signatures in two days.
The petition, initiated by a civic environmental protection group, said that seven of the 120 anchor bolts used to attach the reactor to its concrete base were found broken or cracked during a routine safety check in March — which was confirmed by the Atomic Energy Council (AEC) as the world’s first case of fractured anchor bolts in a BWR-6 boiling-water reactor designed by General Electric Co (GE).
The petition said that although many people expressed concern over GE replacing only the damaged anchor bolts and the reactor’s operator, Taiwan Power Co (Taipower), not explaining whether the other anchor bolts could also crack, the AEC still approved Taipower’s reactivation request filed on Monday.
Green Citizens’ Action Alliance deputy secretary-general Hung Shen-han (洪申翰) said they began circulating the petition about two weeks ago, urging the government not to resume operations until the public’s concerns had been answered.
He said the number of signatories soared by about 7,000 people in the past two days, after the AEC’s sudden announcement on Monday of its approval for the restart.
The petition had 22,329 signatories as of 6pm yesterday.
“We feel angry and worried at the same time over the council’s sudden approval,” Hung said.
“The safety evaluation by the council was a black-box operation, using flawed regulations as a guise for legitimacy, to neglect the legislature’s request for an open hearing and to bypass public concerns,” he added.
Recently, many nuclear reactors in Japan have been blocked from reactivating because in addition to approval by the central government, local governments also have the right to decide whether they can operate, Hung said, “but in Taiwan, regulation is not open to public intervention.”
“We think the AEC should be charged with offenses against public safety for putting the public in danger of a possible nuclear accident,” Hung added.
The council said in a press release yesterday that its approval followed the enforcement rules for the reactivation of nuclear reactor facilities, and although maintenance took longer because of the damaged anchor bolts, its evaluation was made based strictly on safety criteria.