Environmental groups and activists yesterday expressed concern that the Fourth Nuclear Power Plant in Gongliao District (貢寮), New Taipei City (新北市), might start test operations this year, saying that such a decision must be approved by the public.
The Chinese-language Liberty Times (the Taipei Times’ sister newspaper) on Thursday quoted Atomic Energy Council Nuclear Regulation Department director Chen Yi-pin (陳宜彬) as saying that Taiwan Power Co (Taipower) plans to have all the tests on the first reactor at the Fourth Nuclear Power Plant completed by June and that fuel rods may be inserted as early as September if the test results pass the council’s review.
The report said Chen’s remarks were confirmed by Taipower vice president Chen Pu-tsan (陳布燦).
He said that the company plans to finish testing on all 126 systems by the end of April, leaving two months for an independent US company to review the results, but that the timing of inserting the fuel rods had not yet been set.
“We are strongly against the government neglecting the safety of Taiwanese lives and property, or allowing Taipower to insert the fuel rods without the public’s approval,” the Taiwan Environmental Protection Union (TEPU) said.
It said the plant would become dangerous, with the risk of radiation contamination or a serious accident once the fuel rods are inserted and the cost of decommissioning the plant would increase due to radiation contamination in the area.
At the legislature in Taipei yesterday, TEPU members and activists urged that the government abolish the council and set up an independent Nuclear Regulatory Commission which would not be influenced by the Executive Yuan.
The council showed that it lacks the power to regulate Taipower during the plant’s construction, because Taipower changed the design several times, TEPU member and National Taiwan University department of atmospheric sciences professor Gloria Hsu (徐光蓉) said.
National Cheng Kung University political science professor Leung Man-to (梁文韜) said besides the organic act proposed by the Executive Yuan, it has also drafted a civic version that sets the commission’s main goal as achieving a nuclear-free homeland.