Premier Wu Den-yih (吳敦義) yesterday reiterated that the government will not halt construction on the Fourth Nuclear Power Plant despite protests by anti-nuclear activists and residents from New Taipei City’s (新北市) Gongliao District (貢寮) outside the facility.
“I can assure you that we will not allow the Fourth Nuclear Power Plant to start operation unless it is safe. As for halting construction, I am afraid that is not easy,” Wu told the protesters during his inspection trip to the power plant.
At the request of the protesters, three people were allowed to attend the briefing given by -state-owned Taiwan Power Co (Tai-power), the plant’s operator, on the progress of construction work and precautionary measures put in place to deal with an earthquake or tsunami.
In light of the nuclear crisis at Japan’s tsunami-damaged Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant, the government, in an effort to alleviate safety concerns, has pushed back the operational date for the Fourth Nuclear Power Plant to 2013, one year later than originally planned.
A resident described the fourth Nuclear Power Plant as a “cannibalized vehicle” as Taipower did not follow the original design of the facilities at the plant laid out by General Electric, but instead arbitrarily introduced 700 design alterations, prompting compatibility concerns.
“The residents here and I have strong doubts about the quality of construction work as there have been a number of incidents, including floods and power outages at the plant over the past 10 years,” another resident said.
Wu instructed Taipower and the Atomic Energy Council, the national nuclear regulator, to take the misgivings people have expressed about the plant seriously and communicate with them in a open and candid way.
The government will invite international experts to inspect the safety of the plant during the pre-operation testing period to make sure that no errors occur during commercial operation, Wu added.
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