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AEC reiterates safety of 4th nuclear power plant

2011/09/16 21:45:07

Taipei, Sept. 16 (CNA) Despite a safety committee member resigning over doubts about the safety of the fourth nuclear facility, the Atomic Energy Council (AEC) minister remained confident that the plant is safe and said Friday that he has demanded the managing firm to hand in a revised proposal for safety improvement.

Taiwan's Fourth Nuclear Power Plant in New Taipei's Gongliao District has drawn much debate in the country over whether it should be suspended following the nuclear disaster in Japan this March.

Tsai Chuen-horng, minister of the AEC under the Executive Yuan, said he has asked the Taiwan Power Company (Taipower) to submit a safety improvement plan by late October after the company's first draft failed to satisfy the council.

Tsai made the remarks while answering Democratic Progressive Party legislator Wong Chin-chu during a legislative session.

In his response to Wong's question about whether the construction will be halted, Tsai admitted that AEC's Fourth Nuclear Power Plant Safety Monitoring Committee has suggested that AEC suspend the construction if Taipower fails to propose constructive improvements by the end of this year.

Premier Wu Den-yih said the Cabinet does not yet have plans to terminate the construction but it will strictly demand the utmost safety and quality.

However, the AEC minister's firm stance on the power plant has prompted AEC's deputy minister Hsieh Te-chih and committee member Lin Tsung-yao to quit due to "conflicting ideas with the council."

The AEC minister has yet to approve Lin's resignation and has been trying to dissuade him from leaving.

Local media reported that two other committee members Chen Hui-tzu and Tsui Su-hsin have also been considering exits from the agency following Hsieh and Lin's move. AEC said it will continue to communicate with them.

Lin, a former engineer at General Electric Co. who had been involved in building the second and third nuclear power plant, wrote a 5,000-word proposal during the committee meeting in late July detailing construction problems at the fourth power plant. Among them are problems with the monitoring system, procurement, low-quality construction and supervision, and the lack of meticulous operational tests.

Lin charged that it is impossible for the plant to operate safely unless drastic improvements are carried out.

(By Justin Su, Wu Chia-ying and Jamie Wang)