DPP legislators cite 9 'time bombs' at 4th Nuclear Power Plant
Taipei, March 5 (CNA) Opposition Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) legislators charged Tuesday that Taiwan's unfinished Fourth Nuclear Power Plant is plagued by nine major problems, which they described as "time bombs."
The DPP lawmakers said they plan to disclose their findings to the Control Yuan and freeze funding used by state-run utility Taiwan Power Co. (Taipower) to promote the plant's continued construction.
Among the nine problems identified by DPP lawmakers, including Lin Chia-lung and Gao Jyh-peng, are improper welding techniques used on the plant's nuclear reactors, serious damage done to standby emergency generators, and drywells potentially unable to withstand operating temperatures, which could lead to leaks of radioactive substances.
A drywell is the containment structure that encloses the reactor and recirculation system in a boiling water reactor system, the design being used in the controversial project.
The legislators also said 1,400 grounding lines do not meet design standards, and the touch panels in the control room reflect light, which could lead to mistakes in an emergency situation.
Gao accused the government of wanting to use the referendum to sidestep the nuclear safety issue, and he said the Legislature would invite heads of the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Taipower to give briefings on the issue.
Taipower spokesman Lee Hung-chou said later Tuesday that four of the nine problems cited by the DPP legislators simply do not exist, and that the other five have been resolved or are being corrected.
A spokesman for the facility in Gongliao District in New Taipei, known formally as the Lungmen Nuclear Power Plant, acknowledged the problem with glare on the touch panels and said the plant has asked domestic manufacturers to install screens on the devices to keep it away.
The Atomic Energy Council has also instructed Taipower, which operates the nuclear plants, to implement a number of additional tsunami, flooding and earthquake safety measures, the spokesman said.
These include expanding the emergency planning zones around the plant from the current 5-kilometer radius to 8 kilometers.
Critics have also questioned how Taipower plans to manage nuclear waste generated by the plant if it goes into operation, but Tsai Fu-feng, a Taipower spokesman, said Taiwan is technically able to deal with nuclear waste and has ground sites suitable for storing it.
The storage of nuclear waste will ultimately be decided through a democratic process, the company said.
The Ministry of Economic Affairs has chosen Wuciou Island in Kinmen County and Daren Township in Taitung County as possible sites to store low-level radioactive waste, and it plans to hold referendums in both areas to decide on a site.
(By Wen Kuei-hsiang, Huang Chiao-wen Chen Shun-hsieh and Y.L. Kao) enditem/ls
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