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Nuclear plants will be closed permanently if big quake hits: MOEA

2011/05/12 22:37:20

Taipei, May 12 (CNA) Taiwan's three existing nuclear power plantswill be put to rest permanently in the event of a major naturalcatastrophe, such as a big earthquake, a Ministry of Economic Affairs(MOEA) official said Thursday.

The state-run Taiwan Power Company, which is the builder andoperator of the three nuclear power plants, will move immediately toterminate the operations of the No. 1, No. 2 and No 3 nuclear powerplants in case of a Fukushima-style earthquake and tsunami strikingTaiwan, said Chen Chao-yih, vice chairman of the MOEA's Commission ofNational Corporations.

Taipower will take the "execution" move -- aimed at keepingradiation from the generators from leaking -- immediately, withoutfirst consulting any supervising agencies, including the AtomicEnergy Council (AEC), Chen said at a legislative hearing.

Chen added, however, that the designs and construction of thethree nuclear power plants currently in operation are all moreadvanced than Japan's Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant, whichwas damaged after a magnitude 9 earthquake struck northeastern Japanon March 11, triggering tsunami waves of more than 30 meters high anda yet-to-be-resolved nuclear crisis.

Also speaking at the hearing, dubbed "What has Taiwan learnedfrom Japan's nuclear crisis?" Hsu Ming-teh, an AEC deputy director incharge of nuclear energy management, said Taipower is required tocomplete a phase-one overall safety review on the three existingnuclear power plants by the end of June.

The safety review will focus on strengthening the quakeresistance level of the nuclear power plants' electricity and watersupply systems, he added.

According to Hsu, all three plants are located near fault lines.As the strength of earthquakes are related to the length of thefaults, the AEC has required Taipower to organize a panel ofgeological specialists to determine relevant facts.

(By Wen Kuei-hsiang and Deborah Kuo)