Safety of 1st nuclear plant unaffected by damaged cooling system: AEC

04/08/2021 05:22 PM
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The Jinshan Nuclear Power Plant in New Taipei / CNA file photo
The Jinshan Nuclear Power Plant in New Taipei / CNA file photo

Taipei, April 8 (CNA) Damage to a cooling water pipe at Jinshan Nuclear Power Plant in New Taipei last year did not impact the safety of the facility, the Atomic Energy Council (AEC) said Thursday.

The incident only came to light that day after a local media report revealed that state-run Taiwan Power Co (Taipower) workers damaged a water pipe when digging into the soil near the facility late last year, exposing the nuclear facility to a high-level safety risk.

The damage to the cooling water pipe took place during a radiation safety check at the plant that included an underground water system and soil inspection, according to the report.

After the incident, an AEC worker stationed at the plant in Shihmen District, the country's first nuclear plant, checked related equipment, reported that the facility had a seawater cooling system and that its two reactors and fuel rods were kept at the proper temperature, the AEC said.

The stability of the nuclear reactors and safe storage of fuel rods at the facility were also checked, according to the AEC.

However, the AEC said it will issue a warning notice to Taipower, which manages the nuclear plant, for the safety breach and ask it to make improvements.

Although decommissioning operations have officially started at the plant, the fuel rods have not yet been removed from the two reactors, meaning the facility is effectively operational.

As a result, the damage to the cooling water pipe means the reactors were operating at higher temperatures using just one cooling water pipe rather than two. If that pipe had been damaged, it could have caused a nuclear disaster, the report noted.

In response to the report, Taipower admitted the incident, saying that the two reactors at the first nuclear power plant have been shut down for several years and reactor temperatures kept within the required safety range.

Despite the damaged pipe, the second cooling pipe continued to function normally and safety at the nuclear plant was in no way compromised, according to Taipower.

It added that there is a backup cooling system for nuclear reactors and the safe storage of spent fuel pools.

Meanwhile, the nuclear plant has repaired the ruptured pipe and will review operational controls and procedures governing soil examination and digging to prevent any re-occurrence, according to Taipower.

(By Liang Pei-chi and Evelyn Kao)

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