Tue, Feb 06, 2018 - Page 3 News List

Taipower request to restart reactor criticized, quizzed

GUOSHENG’S NO. 2:The reactor has been offline since May 2016 for maintenance, which has raised questions about the safety of restarting it

Staff writer, with CNA

Taiwan Power Co’s (Taipower) request yesterday to reactivate a reactor at the Guosheng Nuclear Power Plant was criticized by environmental groups, while legislators were divided on the issue.

Taipower applied to the Atomic Energy Council for permission to restart the No. 2 reactor at the plant in New Taipei City’s Wanli District (萬里), which was taken offline in May 2016 for maintenance work.

Shortly after the maintenance work began, a power surge on May 16 burned out three surge arresters in the reactor’s electricity generation system, triggering renewed criticism of Taipower’s management of the nation’s nuclear reactors and lengthening the period needed to complete the maintenance work.

Maintenance was finally completed in December last year.

The council must conduct a 30-day safety review and if it approves the company’s request, the application would be sent to the Legislative Yuan.

Green Consumers’ Foundation chairman Jay Fang (方儉) said restarting the reactor could be difficult because it has been offline for so long.

Experience has shown that restarting a reactor can cause power outages and impact the general power supply system, Fang said, and he questioned if Taipower has sufficient backup systems in place in case of a power failure.

Taiwan Environmental Radiation Survey convener Lin Jui-chu (林瑞珠) said Taiwan was not suffering from a power shortage, so there was no reason to restart the reactor.

Taiwan’s total installed electricity capacity is about 51 gigawatts (GW) and peak usage during the past summer was about 37GW, which meant there was a power surplus of about 14GW, she said.

Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Legislator Lee Yen-hsiu (李彥秀) said Taipower’s request indicates that the government would not meet its promise to phase out nuclear power by 2025.

The Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) should take full responsibility for such a failure and take the opportunity to review its national power policy, Lee said.

However, DPP Legislator Liu Chao-hao (劉櫂豪) said that after the power surge problem at the reactor in May 2016, the legislature decided Taipower would be allowed to restart the reactor after it received a safety report from the council.

The DPP caucus would decide whether to support reactivation of the reactor after reviewing the report, Liu said.

New Power Party caucus whip Hsu Yung-ming (徐永明) called on Taipower to scrap the plan, as the government’s nuclear-free homeland by 2025 proposal is clear.

However, People First Party Legislator Chen Yi-chieh (陳怡潔) said an unusually severe tightness in the nation’s power supply this winter made the government realize its nuclear-free homeland policy cannot be achieved as quickly as thought.

The government should clarify whether Taiwan is suffering from a power shortage and announce a timetable to resolve the problem, Chen said.

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