Former Japanese PM Kan denies praising plant safety

Staff Writer, CNA

Sun, Sep 15, 2013 - Page 3

Former Japanese prime minister Naoto Kan denied making comments on the safety management of Taiwan’s Jinshan Nuclear Power Plant during a recent visit.

Kan, who was Japan’s top executive when a 2011 earthquake led to a meltdown at the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant, said he was only briefed by the officials from the Taiwan Power Co (Taipower) during his one-hour visit there and he had not commented on the plant’s facilities.

There is no absolutely safe nuclear power plant in the world, Kan said at an anti-nuclear power event Friday evening in which he shared his experience after the nuclear power disaster.

If a nuclear disaster takes place in Taiwan, the situation will be more serious than the one in Fukushima as Taiwan is small and cannot provide enough safety buffer zones between the plant and populated areas, he said.

Kan’s remark came after Taipower told local media that Japan’s former prime minister praised the first nuclear power plant in New Taipei City’s (新北市) Shihmen District (石門) for having better safety management than Japan’s Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant.

According to reports, Kan was quoted by officials from Taipower as saying that the plant was equipped with improved spent fuel pools and a reactor core isolation cooling system.

Compared with the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant, which kept their standby generators at a lower level, the plant in Taiwan has a better design with the gas turbine generator installed on higher ground, according to reports.

When Kan arrived in Taipei on Tuesday to promote a nuclear free homeland, he said that only a country with no nuclear power can claim total safety.

He is scheduled to return to Japan today.

Taipower arranged the one hour meeting for Kan based on the friendly relations between the two countries, the company said. However, it originally rejected Kan’s request to visit the company last week.

Citing an independent report by Japan’s parliament and private sector, Taipower attributed administrative error and bad decision making as the cause of the nuclear meltdown in Japan, which will not be necessarily repeated in Taiwan.

Currently, Taiwan has three operational nuclear power plants and six reactors.