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AEC punishment over nuclear plant design change excessive: Taipower

AEC punishment over nuclear plant design change excessive: Taipower

Taipei, Nov. 7 (CNA) The state-owned Taiwan Power Co. (Taipower), said Monday that a penalty imposed by the Atomic Energy Council (AEC) over changes in the design of the Fourth Nuclear Power Plant was too steep and that it might file an administrative appeal over the ruling. Taipower was responding to a media report that the AEC has meted out a fine of NT$15 million (US$498,340) on Taipower for the design changes that were made late last year, which were deemed a second-level violation of the Nuclear Reactor Facilities Control Law and other regulations. The report said Taipower was first found in 2008 to have arbitrarily changed the design without screening by and approval of the original designer -- General Electric Co. (GE). This was ruled a third-level violation for which the company received a fine of NT$4 million. "The AEC's new ruling of a second-level violation is too steep," said Lee Hung-chou, a Taipower spokesman. Lee pointed out that the company had explained the design alterations to the AEC during a meeting last month and provided data to prove that it had obtained the necessary approval from GE. He said that due to a dispute over the contract with GE, the AEC had agreed to Taipower's design change under a provisional measure, although the change would still have to be later screened and approved by GE. The provisional measure expired in November 2009 and Taipower had asked the AEC for an extension of the measure, but had received no answer, Lee went on. The spokesman said Taipower's decision to go ahead with the changes without an answer from the AEC was certainly an"administrative flaw,"but not one that constitutes a major violation. Meanwhile, Jerry J.R. Ou, director-general of the Bureau of Energy under the Ministry of Economic Affairs, said that since the crisis at Japan's Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant triggered by the March 11 earthquake and tsunami, the safety of nuclear power has resurfaced as a major public concern. Ou said that the government has formed a task force to conduct inspections of all Taiwan's nuclear facilities and to review the country's energy policies. "In the future, we'll continue to strengthen the ability of the existing units at Taiwan's nuclear power plants to withstand earthquakes, floods and tsunamis," he said. He also said that the units at the fourth nuclear plant now under construction will undergo rigorous tests under the supervision of the government and will also be assessed by international organizations. "If the two units at the fourth nuclear power plant can start stable commercial operations by 2016, then the units at the first plant (originally scheduled to be decommissioned in 2018 and 2019, respectively) can be shut down ahead of schedule to gradually cut Taiwan's reliance on nuclear power," he added. (By Huang Chiao-wen , Justin Su and Lilian Wu)


Updated : 2021-05-07 12:32 GMT+08:00