Nuclear plants should be better designed: EU study

NO STRESS::An EU review of an Atomic Energy Council report found the agency’s safety views ‘comprehensive,’ but said plants could be better shielded against disasters

By Shelley Shan  /  Staff reporter

Sat, Nov 09, 2013 - Page 4

The nation should update the design of its nuclear power plants to better cope with natural disasters, the EU said in its peer review of a stress tests report on local facilities, despite the Atomic Energy Council (AEC) not finding any issues necessitating an immediate shutdown.

The report on stress tests performed by the plants’ operator, Taiwan Power Co (Taipower), was drafted by the council before being reviewed by the European Nuclear Safety Regulators Group (ENSREG) in Taiwan between Sept. 23 and Sunday last week.

The EU team concluded that the tests essentially followed the specifications of European stress tests.

“The EU peer review acknowledges that — building on the results of the European stress tests and on insights from post-Fukushima actions being taken in other regions of the world, particularly in the USA, Europe and Japan — the AEC has developed a comprehensive approach to safety review and identification of actions for further safety enhancements in order to better prepare all nuclear power plants in Taiwan against extreme external events and severe accidents,” the report said.

“Assuming the proper implementation of these actions and based on the review against the set of Fukushima-type hazards considered within the scope of the stress tests, the EU peer review takes note that AEC has not identified any safety-related weaknesses in Taiwanese nuclear power plants which would require their immediate shutdown,” it said.

The report said the safety standards applied to Taiwanese plants seemed to be generally high and conformed to international practice.

However, the group still made several recommendations to improve the design of the plants, keep the facilities operational during severe accidents and implementing a mechanism to ensure the transparency of a plant’s safety status.

It identified the main priority as designing the power plants to enable them to deal with all natural disasters, particularly earthquakes and tsunamis.

“As the exposure of Taiwan to natural hazards, such as earthquakes, tsunamis, flooding and typhoons, is generally quite high, the reliable assessment of the severity of these hazrds and the implementation of suitable measures to protect against them is of crucial importance,” the report said.

The group suggested the government use the most advanced technology to update plant design and identify earthquake-related risks.

The council has uploaded the English version of the report and its summary on its Web site. The Chinese translation of the report will be available within a month.

The council added that it will list all the recommendations mentioned in the report so Taipower can use them to improve its operations.