Taipei, April 16 (CNA) Local residents and several environmental groups expressed concern Monday about the safety of a nuclear reactor in New Taipei after several of its anchor bolts were recently found during routine maintenance work to be cracked.
Eight ward chiefs and two district council members of Jinshan District, which neighbors Wanli District, site of Taiwan's No. 2 Nuclear Power Plant, held a protest in front of the plant, demanding the replacement of all the anchor bolts of the reactor in question.
Several environmental groups also held a press conference in front of the Legislature in which they called for the suspension of the plant until the cause of the bolt damage has been made clear.
Taiwan Power Co. (Taipower), operator of the country's nuclear power plants, found fractures or cracks in seven of the 120 anchor bolts in one of the two reactors at the No. 2 nuclear power plant during routine maintenance work that is performed every 18 months.
In December 1981, the reactor became the first at the plant to enter commercial operations, according to Taipower's website.
Expressing worry about the plant's ability to withstand earthquakes, Green Citizens' Action Alliance Secretary-General Tsui Shu-hsin said a full examination should be conducted, since bolt fractures of this type have been previously unseen.
Green Party Taiwan spokesman Pan Han-shen said the environmental groups will gather outside the Legislature in the coming days to ensure that the Atomic Energy Council does not permit Taipower's planned resumption of the reactor April 20, when the maintenance is set to be completed.
Taipower President Lee Han-shen said during a legislative hearing that the company has replaced six of the seven damaged bolts and is still trying to find a way to replace the last one, which is obstructed by other equipment.
Lee added that ultrasound test results showed that the other 113 bolts are normal with no damage.
Meanwhile, the council said, metallographic analysis has initially ruled out the possibility of corrosion, but further tests are required to determine the cause of the damage.
Atomic Energy Minister Tsai Chuen-horng said the council has instructed Taipower to submit a report analyzing the safety of the reactor once it re-enters service with the six replaced bolts.
The council will not allow operations to resume until the reactor's condition meets the original design code and all safety concerns have been addressed, Tsai added.
(By Claudia Liu, Hsu Chih-wei, Lin Meng-ju and Kay Liu)