Environmentalists and New Power Party (NPP) Legislator Huang Kuo-chang (黃國昌) yesterday questioned the approval process of a project to extend the lifespan of Guosheng Nuclear Power Plant in New Taipei City’s Wanli District (萬里), demanding that the project be halted.
In the project, Taiwan Power Co (Taipower) would convert the plant’s loading pools, which are normally used only during fuel replenishment, into a spent-fuel storage facility, thereby extending the plant’s lifespan, Huang said.
There are too many questions about the procurement and approval process of the NT$290 million (US$9.63 million) project, Huang said.
Taipower submitted the project to the government in August last year and the Atomic Energy Council (AEC) approved it in April, the environmentalists said, adding that it is due to be completed at the end of this month.
Several aspects of the process are troubling, such as the project having been awarded to Pacific Engineers & Constructors Ltd (PECL 泰興工程), a subsidiary of the US engineering company Bechtel Group, Huang said.
“We found that PECL subcontracted parts of the project to the Institute of Nuclear Energy Research (INER 核能研究所), which operates under the AEC. The AEC is the monitoring agency supervising the project, but it is also a subcontractor,” Huang said.
“Is this not a conflict of interest? ... Was the whole process run in a fair and objective manner? I think most people want these questions answered,” he said.
AEC Minister Hsieh Shou-shing (謝曉星) yesterday said that the conversion of the spent-fuel storage facilities, as well as monitoring and assessment, started in September last year, and that information about the project was made public on the AEC’s Web site.
“There is no conflict of interest. The monitoring and supervision work for the project and the subcontracting work are being done by two different units,” INER director-general Ma Yin-pang (馬殷邦) told reporters yesterday.
Huang said the project is illegal since it did not obtain a permit for the construction work.
“It is engineering work to convert the loading pool into spent-fuel storage, involving a change of function,” he said.
AEC officials rejected the claim, saying the work was for modification of an existing facility and such work does not require a construction permit according to the regulations on nuclear power plants.
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