State-owned Taiwan Power Co (Taipower) assured the public yesterday that the nation’s first and second nuclear power plants were safe, after Chinese-language media reports said northern Taiwan could be vulnerable to a major earthquake.
Taipower vice president Hsu Hwai-chiung (徐懷瓊) said that if a quake with a seismic intensity of seven — the highest on Taiwan’s seven-tier scale — struck the north, the power stations would still be intact.
“However, the priority now is to reinforce the piping system to ensure that water could be sent to the reactors within one hour of a disaster triggered by a large earthquake, so that they could both be shut down safely in time,” Hsu said.
He was responding to misgivings about the Sanchiao Fault on the northwestern part of the Taipei Basin, after a recent survey found it to be at least 80km — and possibly even 120km — long, compared with the previous estimate of 40km.
According to Chen Wen-shan (陳文山), a professor at National Taiwan University, if a complete dislocation of the fault occurred, it could result in a magnitude 7.5 to 7.8 earthquake.
Hsu said the piping lines at the Jinshan Nuclear Power Plant, located in Shihmen District (石門), New Taipei City (新北市), 7km away from the fault, were designed to withstand a “peak ground acceleration” of 0.5G.
If during an assessment on the piping system it is found that the piping cannot meet the standard, the pipes will be replaced or stronger supports will be used, he said.
The Guosheng Nuclear Power Plant in Wanli District (萬里), New Taipei City (新北市), is 5km away from the fault and has set a goal of withstanding a peak ground acceleration of between 0.5G and 0.6G, he said.
The highest level of seismic intensity on Taiwan’s seven-tier intensity scale generally covers peak ground accelerations greater than 0.4G.
The assessment report on strengthening the piping system would be completed by the end of the year and any necessary work to strengthen the lines would begin early next year, Hsu added.
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