Wed, Mar 05, 2014 - Page 3 News List

Nuclear plant’s safety checks ‘done by June’

Staff writer, with CNA

The Ministry of Economic Affairs (MOEA) expressed confidence that the safety tests and checks being performed at the Fourth Nuclear Power Plant in New Taipei City’s Gongliao District (貢寮) will be completed by the end of June, as scheduled.

A 45-member special safety inspection team began its review of 126 systems at the plant, which is still under construction, in May last year.

As of Sunday, 104 systems had been re-checked and passed tests, the ministry said.

Improvements were ordered on 17 systems, while another five systems had yet to be delivered and have not undergone safety tests, the ministry said in a statement issued on Monday.

The double-checks and tests will likely be completed by the end of June, a ministry official said after a regular meeting of an expert committee tasked to review the safety inspection team’s work.

The meeting was hosted by Vice Minister of Economic Affairs Woody Duh (杜紫軍).

The ministry will also deliver all the relevant documents and safety reports to the nuclear safety regulator — the Atomic Energy Council — by the end of September for review, the official added.

Though the ministry is conducting the safety checks systematically, it is unclear if they will convince enough people of the integrity of the plant, which has become a highly divisive issue.

The plant’s construction has undergone repeated starts and stops over the past decade, and a former member of the monitoring committee checking on the work of the MOEA inspection team, Lin Tsung-yao (林宗堯), warned in August last year that the plant would have a hard time meeting government security standards.

Opposition to nuclear power increased following the meltdown of the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant in Japan in 2011, leaving the government hard-pressed to convince the public that the plant can be operated safely.

The government, which does not want to see the more than NT$300 billion injected into the plant go to waste, still sees nuclear power as the cheapest and cleanest way to generate large amounts of power in the nation, which currently generates nearly 80 percent of its electricity using fossil fuels.

To move the project forward and to back up its safety assurances, the government ordered the inspection team, composed in large part of workers with experience at the nation’s other nuclear power plants, to re-check and test the systems that are already in place.

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