The Safety Monitoring Committee of the Fourth Nuclear Power Plant should be placed under the Legislative Yuan to better serve its function and allay public discontent, former committee member Lin Tsung-yao (林宗堯) said.
Lin, who in July penned a nearly 5,000-word letter to the Presidential Office detailing several problems at the power plant, including issues with the initial design, procurement problems leading to hasty construction and ineffective monitoring mechanisms by oversight bodies, recently made another appeal to the Presidential Office detailing issues surrounding the Fourth Nuclear Power Plant in Gongliao District (貢寮), New Taipei City (新北市).
In an interview with the Liberty Times (the Taipei Times’ sister paper) on Wednesday, Lin, who last month resigned from the Safety Monitoring Committee, said that everyone in the Atomic Energy Council (AEC) was doing everything in their power to prevent mistakes, and many fines were being levied, adding that some have even threatened to stop the project.
Photo: Tang Chia-ling, Taipei Times
However, Lin said the AEC minister wanted to continue construction of the Fourth Nuclear Power Plant, leading the council to understate the severity of its problems.
Their reports are misleading the nation and the government into thinking that the testing of the Fourth Nuclear Power Plant was successful and it would only be a short matter of time before the power plant went into operation, Lin said.
Lin added the council was severely understaffed and was only able to conduct reviews on everyday processing and legal matters, adding that the council was even unable to attend and oversee the testing of security measures.
The council needs to certify that the Fourth Nuclear Power Plant is safe before giving the power plant its operational license, but it was not present at the testing of security measures, Lin said.
“How then will it convince the public that the Fourth Nuclear Power Plant is safe and ready to go into operation?” Lin asked.
Lin said that minor flooding took place at the Fourth Nuclear Power Plant after a failure of the emergency core cooling system during a trial run on Aug. 16. A pipe in the water cooling system was undergoing maintenance when the trial began, so water being piped from lower levels to the reactor leaked out, causing a 30cm flood of the generator’s sump pit.
Lin said that after the incident, the improvement plans pitched by the Taiwan Power Corp (Taipower) — the operator of the nation’s nuclear power plants — entailed only increasing the number of consultants and trying to improve the quality of their work.
If Taipower does not know what the problem is, no amount of consultants will be able to help it, Lin said, adding that at the Legislative Yuan, the Executive Yuan and the Commission of National Corporations, no one knows how severe problems at the Fourth Nuclear Power Plant are.
Lin said that after seven years of working on the Fourth Nuclear Power Plant, he had decided to quit his post after writing the letters in July.
“AEC deputy minister Shieh Der-jhy’s (謝得志) sudden resignation in July had a great impact on me. He said that he was like a ladybug who couldn’t break out of the glass,” Lin said. “If even the deputy minister can’t do it, how can I, only one member of the 13-member Safety Monitoring Committee, do it?”
At the time of his resignation, Shieh was quoted by local media as saying that he resigned because his personal beliefs conflicted with the council’s position on the matter.
As the Fourth Nuclear Power Plant entered testing stages during the last three of Lin’s seven years at the plant, Lin said he found it to be fraught with problems and gave a detailed account of those problems during a meeting.
Lin said he was forced to write the letters because there was no other channel for negotiation over the problems.
“Once the fuel rod is inserted, there’s no turning back,” Lin said, adding that construction on the Fourth Nuclear Power Plant was delayed for 15 years with no one stopping construction on it because no one was providing oversight.
Lin suggested putting the Safety Monitoring Committee under the jurisdiction of the Legislative Yuan and excluding members who refuse. The committee should hire people with professional experience with nuclear power plants and station these people at the Fourth Nuclear Power Plant to oversee and participate in the construction, he added.
At a separate setting on Friday, AEC Minister Tsai Chun-hung (蔡春鴻) denied he was trying to obfuscate the Fourth Nuclear Power Plant issue and said the Safety Monitoring Committee’s was for consultation only and did not represent the council.
Translated by Jake Chung, Staff Writer
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