Atomic Energy Council (AEC) Minister Tsai Chuen-horng (蔡春鴻) yesterday said that the council, as an independent agency in charge of monitoring nuclear safety, would take final responsibility for deciding whether the Fourth Nuclear Power Plant in New Taipei City’s (新北市) Gongliao District (貢寮) could begin commercial operations, adding that so far no schedule has been planned.
The remarks came in the wake of former French Nuclear Safety Authority chairman Andre-Claude Lacoste’s meeting with government officials in Taipei earlier this week.
Lacoste arrived on Monday and shared his experiences of regulating nuclear safety in France.
He met with governmental officials, spoke at a forum on the new challenges of nuclear safety and visited a nuclear power plant on Wednesday, before returning to France yesterday.
Independence, transparency, competency and rigor were the four words Lacoste listed as the core values that an independent nuclear safety regulator should balance and act upon, Tsai said, adding that the four words left a strong impression on his mind after his meeting with Lacoste.
Asked for the council’s view on President Ma Ying-jeou’s (馬英九) remarks that the yet-to-be-completed Fourth Nuclear Power Plant would be inspected by and gain certification from international organizations to ensure its safety before it commences operations, Tsai said it was not common practice in other countries.
“Requests for certification from international nuclear organizations are actually quite troublesome for us [the council,]” Tsai said, adding that although regulations require some procedures during the construction and pre-testing periods to be certified by international organizations, the final decision on whether to allow the fuel rods to be deployed and to begin operations is up to each country’s regulator.”
“The suggestions and opinions of other [government] agencies are only a point of reference for the council,” Tsai said. “The responsibility of taking the final decision falls on the council.”
Tsai said the Fourth Nuclear Power Plant has already begun testing procedures and that Taiwan Power Co (Taipower) is required to complete a total of 309 test procedures and submit the results of 187 procedures for the council to review.
Taipower has finished about 110 procedures and submitted four reports to the council, Tsai said.
Taipower has also advised the council that it is considering submitting test reports to General Electric Co, which designed the plant, Tsai said, adding that “just like the referee and the coach have different roles [in sports], if it [Taipower] wants GE to be its coach, of course, the council has no objection.”