Fri, Jul 22, 2016 - Page 3 News List

Nuclear plant accused of malfunction cover-up

By Chen Wei-han  /  Staff reporter

The Pingtung County Government yesterday accused Ma-anshan (馬鞍山) Nuclear Power Plant management of covering up safety incidents and evading government oversight and media scrutiny in the aftermath of repeated fire system malfunctions.

The county government criticized the plant management for failing to report or delaying the reporting of several safety incidents, as well as not clearly recounting the incidents in the reports or trying to downplay their severity.

Pingtung County Government spokesman Huang Chien-chia (黃建嘉) said the fire suppression system at the plant was triggered for unknown reasons and released carbon dioxide in March, but the county government did not receive a report from the plant.

The fire alarm was accidentally activated again on May 28, but the county government did not receive a report until the next day, which said the alarm was triggered because of a system malfunction and the plant’s fire team did not find anything abnormal, Huang said.

However, the plant management told a different story when the county government dispatched a task force to look into the incident on June 29, he said.

The fire system at a steam turbine room released large amounts of carbon dioxide on May 28 and the fire team was unable to enter the room for some time, Huang said, adding that the system malfunctioned because a power cable was defective, but those details were not disclosed in the plant’s initial report.

There have been 24 fire system malfunctions since last year, but the plant did not reveal what caused the malfunctions, he said.

Following media allegations that cable defects were caused by overuse and that cables in the plant have not been replaced for 30 years, the plant should be opened to public scrutiny, he said.

“Taiwan Power Co [Taipower] has claimed that there are no problems with the plant, but the company does not have the final say on the matter. The plant should be opened to the media so that the public can understand what happened and how maintenance is carried out,” Huang said.

The county government had applied for permission to visit the plant with reporters, but the application was rejected, he added.

“The county government seriously condemns the plant management for repeated accidents and its attempt to evade media oversight. The county government will take necessary actions if the plant does not reveal what caused the incidents,” Huang said.

The county government has also threatened to ask lawmakers to freeze the plant’s budget should its requests be ignored, he added.

Taipower spokesman Lin Te-fu (林德福) said the company had already issued its final statement yesterday, adding that county officials were welcome to visit the plant anytime.

The statement said there were three fire system malfunctions since March that were caused either by a malfunction in the fire alarm control panel or a cable that was mistakenly grounded.

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