Energy officials rule out landsides at nuclear plant cooling pool
Central News Agency
2014-01-12 10:07 PM
Taipei, Jan. 12 (CNA) Energy authorities in Taiwan dismissed Sunday concerns over landslides around the water pool meant to cool the nation's fourth nuclear power plant, saying it sits atop solid bedrock and making assurances that they are keeping tabs on geological conditions. State-owned utility Taiwan Power Company (Taipower) has been using sensors installed nearby to monitor risks of soil liquefaction or other signs that the soil underneath the pool is losing strength, said Chou Yuan-ching, deputy minister of the Atomic Energy Council -- the country's nuclear safety regulator -- at a press conference Sunday. Officials from the Soil and Water Conservation Bureau backed up the reassurance by saying that figures provided by Taipower recently show no signs of abnormality. Taipower itself has expressed confidence that the soil in question is firm enough to pose no hazard. In a statement, the plant operator stressed that there was absolutely no possibility of soil liquefaction near the 48,000-metric-ton fresh water pool at the almost completed plant in New Taipei. The statement followed a report in the Liberty Times earlier Sunday that said the pool's location on a dip slope makes it more prone to landslides, raising concerns about the safety of a nuclear plant situated in an area with heavy rain that could conceivably result in the loss of its main resource for cooling reactors. Soil and water conservation officials said they were aware of the dip slope when they reviewed the project, but Taipower took several safety measures after being informed of the potential danger. Chief among those measures is the flattening of the dip slope to an angle of just 14 degrees to ensure against soil shifts, according to Taipower's statement. The company said it had listened to soil and water conservation experts and removed chunks of earth and rocks upslope from the pool to reduce pressure on the soil, as well. It cited a report it had conducted on the geological stability of nearby areas, which showed the soil would remain safe even if groundwater seeps out, which is normally an indication of high water saturation in the soil and an increased risk of landslides. Addressing a 2010 report by consultancy Sinotech Engineering that was also cited by the Liberty Times, Taipower said it has removed parts of land found to have been eroded over time and reinforced those areas with cement before building the cooling pool Now that work on the pool has wrapped up, the layers in question will not be at risk of weathering because they are no longer exposed to air, according to the statement. (By Huang Chiao-wen and Scully Hsiao)
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