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Debate on possible fault line under nuclear power plant deadlocked

2010/09/21 21:00:06

Taipei, Sept 21 (CNA) Anti-nuclear activists and Taiwan PowerCompany (Taipower) remained deadlocked Tuesday in an argument onwhether a fault line exists under the country's fourth nuclear powerplant that is being built in Taipei County.

In a public hearing at the Legislative Yuan on the issue,environmentalists urged the government to halt construction of theplant, while the state-owned Taipower said there is no need for suchaction.

The cracks found by a Japanese geologist in a levee in Gongliaotownship where the plant is located are not fault lines but shearzones, said Taipower, the operator of the plant and the other threenuclear power facilities in the country.

But Wang Hsiu-chun, chairman of the Taiwan EnvironmentalProtection Union, urged that an independent study be carried outbefore the project, known as the Lungmen Power Plant, is allowed toproceed.

Last week, Japanese geologist Shiosaka Kunio said that based onhis research, which included an on-site assessment, he had determinedthat there is a one-kilometer long active fault line runningnorth-south under the fishing port in Aodi Village along the coast ofGongliao township.

"An initial measurement of the laccoliths -- masses of igneousrock intruded between layers of sedimentary rock -- separated by thefault found that there is a 3-meter difference in height betweenthem," he was quoted as saying at a press conference on Sept 17.

The safety of the compound as well as that of the residents inthe area would be gravely jeopardized in case of an earthquake, hewarned.

But Taipower rejected the validity of Shiosaka's findings, sayingit is impossible that he could have discovered fault lines just bywalking around the site.

"All of the nuclear plants in the country are built in accordancewith the highest safety standards and are fully equipped to deal withemergency situations," said Taipower vice-president S.J. Huang.

Shiosaka, who was not at Tuesday's hearing, issued a statement,saying that he had carried out extensive research in the area withthe use of high-tech equipment such as remote sensors beforepublicizing his findings.

"The relevant people in Taiwan should personally examine the siteor study the images of the fault lines before taking issue with myresearch," the geologist said.

Regardless of when the fault line was last active, it will exerttremendous force under conditions of external pressure, somewhat likesmashing an ice cube with a hammer, he said.

Environmental groups said that a referendum should be held toallow the residents of Taipei County to participate fully in thedebate on the Lungmen Power Plant.

"Science has proven that nuclear power is not a safe orsustainable form of alternative energy, " Wang said. "It is not theanswer to carbon emissions or global warming, but rather couldproduce radiation that would have a long-lasting detrimental effecton the environment."

(By Jenny W. Hsu)
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