Fourth nuclear power plant safety checks on schedule: MOEA
Central News Agency
2014-03-03 10:14 PM
Taipei, March 3 (CNA) The Ministry of Economic Affairs (MOEA) expressed confidence Monday that the safety tests and checks being done on a controversial nuclear power plant project in northern Taiwan will be completed by the end of June as scheduled. A 45-member special safety inspection team began its review of 126 systems at the country's fourth nuclear power plant, which is still under construction, in May 2013. As of March 2, 104 systems had been re-checked and passed tests, the MOEA said. Improvements were ordered on another 17 systems and another five systems had yet to be delivered and have not undergone safety tests, the MOEA said in a statement. The double checks and tests will likely be completed by the end of June, an MOEA official said after a regular meeting of an expert committee tasked to review the safety inspection team's work. The meeting was hosted by Vice Economics Minister Duh Tyzz-jiun. The MOEA will also deliver all the relevant documents and safety reports to the nuclear safety regulator, the Atomic Energy Council, by the end of September for review, the official added. Though the ministry is conducting the safety checks systematically, it is unclear if they will convince enough people of the integrity of the New Taipei plant, which has become a highly divisive issue in the country. The plant has undergone repeated starts and stops for over a decade, and a former member of the eight-member monitoring committee checking on the work of the MOEA inspection team, Lin Tsung-yao, warned last August that the plant would have a hard time meeting government security standards. Opposition to nuclear power hardened in Taiwan following the meltdown of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant in Japan in 2011, leaving the government hard-pressed to convince a skeptical population that the plant can be operated safely. The government, which does not want to see the more than NT$300 billion injected into the plant to date go to waste, still sees nuclear power as the cheapest and cleanest way to generate large amounts of power in Taiwan, which currently generates nearly 80 percent of its electricity using fossil fuels. To move the project forward and back up its safety assurances, the government ordered the inspection team, composed in large part of workers with experience at Taiwan's other nuclear power plants, to re-check and test the systems that are already in place. (By Huang Chiao-wen and Elizabeth Hsu)
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