Legislators slammed the Atomic Energy Council’s (AEC) nuclear disaster drill as “role-playing” and questioned the extent of evacuation zones during a review of the council’s nuclear emergency response fund yesterday.
The Education and Culture Committee reviewed the council’s budget proposal related to nuclear emergency prevention and response measures, saying some items were poorly executed and some were bloated.
Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Legislator Chung Chia-pin (鍾佳濱) said he had taken part in four nuclear disaster drills, but they were like “role-playing,” in which soldiers were ordered to put on swimming trunks and pretend to be tourists, instead of actual residents participating in the drills.
“The council’s drill plan failed to simulate the accommodation of tens of thousands of people evacuated from New Taipei City and Taipei, which would be a major problem in the event of a nuclear disaster,” Chung said.
DPP Legislator Cheng Li-chun (鄭麗君) questioned the scope of the evacuation zones, which the council set within an 8km radius from nuclear plants.
“Immediately after the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear disaster in 2011, the Japanese government instructed residents living within 3km of the power plant to evacuate, but later expanded the area of evacuation to within a 20km radius of the reactor,” Cheng said, asking whether the AEC’s planned evacuation areas are large enough.
AEC Minister Chou Yuan-ching (周源卿) said the 8km evacuation area is already an expansion from the original 5km evacuation area and is calculated based on the range of nuclear fallout, while Japan ordered a larger evacuation area because the Fukushima Dai-ichi plant had six reactors, compared with Taiwan’s three nuclear plants that have only two reactors each.
About 2 million people would need to evacuate if areas of evacuation were expanded to 20km from the two New Taipei City power plants, Chou said.
DPP Legislator Rosalia Wu (吳思瑤) said Taipei is located within 30km of two nuclear plants in New Taipei City, but the Taipei City Government has done little to improve emergency preparedness and only a handful of Taipei residents have participated in the council’s drills, so Taipei residents are not capable of responding to a nuclear disaster.
The committee also questioned the council’s other budget proposals that included organizing school fairs and public-relations training as well as issuing calendars, with the committee cutting certain budget items it deemed unnecessary.
“What is the use of the council’s ‘evacuation calendar’? Will residents take along a calendar when evacuating?” Cheng said.
The committee said the council should not spend funds on touting nuclear safety with public-relations programs, but on raising disaster prevention awareness among the public.
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