Civic groups and environmentalists yesterday criticized an emergency safety drill organized by the Atomic Energy Council (AEC) as being merely an act and questioned whether the safety measures would prove sufficient in the event of a real accident.
The AEC held the two-day safety drill at the Ma-anshan Nuclear Power Plant in Ma-anshan (馬鞍山), Pingtung County, on Tuesday and yesterday
The safety drill used the 2011 Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear disaster as a reference and had the disaster scenario set as a magnitude 8.2 earthquake in the Manila Trench, causing a huge tsunami to flood the coast of southern Taiwan, cutting off the plant’s electricity and communications, as well as damaging storage tanks.
The county government said the drill was the first time the AEC incorporated the evacuation of nearby elementary-school students, patients and elderly people who now live on their own.
This was also the first time the council allowed residents living within 3km from the plant and civic environmental groups to participate in a nuclear safety drill, and therefore several groups had signed up to monitor the drill.
Civic group Citizens of the Earth, Taiwan (CET) said the drill seemed like a performance, without forcing all related personnel to attend, and did not include enough nearby residents.
CET’s energy and sustainable industry department director Joan Tsai (蔡卉荀) said the drill seemed like a promotional demonstration, as it only included students from one elementary school and left out the hospitals that would be responsible for emergency rescue in the event of radiation leakage.
She questioned whether medical personnel are familiar with emergency procedures if local residents were exposed to radiation in a nuclear accident.
The group also said that the evacuation zone around the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant had a 20km radius, Taiwan only set an evacuation zone of 8km, and therefore the evacuation preparation measures are certainly not enough to protect the nearby residents, or the large number of visitors in the area, which offers scenic nature getaways.
Tsai said the number of people living within 3km of the plant who had registered to participate in the drill was very limited, so the effectiveness of the drill was also very limited.