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Taipower finishes safety checks on nuclear power plants

2012/03/10 13:58:44

Taipei, March 10 (CNA) The state-run Taiwan Power Co. (Taipower) has finished its safety checks on the country's four nuclear power plants to ensure their safety ahead of the first anniversary of Japan's nuclear crisis, according to the company.

A comprehensive safety assessment has been conducted, with some machines and areas which were not due to be checked having been examined as well, the company said.

"With the approach of the first anniversary of the Japanese nuclear crisis, we'd like to assure the public that our plants are safe," Tsai Fuh-feng, director of Taipower's Department of Nuclear Generation, told CNA in a telephone interview Friday.

Besides regular checks, the three operating nuclear power plants and the one under construction all passed stress tests, which are required in European countries, he said.

Although there are still some parts of the plants in need of reinforcement, Tsai said all the plants are "safe enough to encounter a devastating disaster similar to the one that happened in Japan."

On March 11, 2011, a magnitude 9.0 earthquake and ensuing tsunami caused a nuclear power plant to fail, plunging Japan into the worst nuclear crisis in its history.

After the incident, Taipower reviewed its safety procedures and came up with an "ultimate response guideline" specially tailored for Taiwan to cope with similar compound disasters, Tsai said.

Following the guideline, the company can respond immediately and take critical action within an hour after a disaster, he added.

"We are confident that we can take proper and immediate measures right after any disaster," Tsai said, adding that Taiwan will not suffer the same nightmare as Japan.

However, such safety checks do not seem good enough to quell the unease among certain parties.

Anti-nuclear civic groups are still planning simultaneous protests in Taipei, Taichung and Kaohsiung March 11 to demand that the government implement energy-saving policies and decommission the existing nuclear power plants as soon as possible.

(By James Lee)