Taiwan Says Nuclear Water Still Leaking Inside Power Plant
Taiwanese authorities said a water leak that began 3 1/2 years ago inside a state-owned atomic power plant is yet to be halted, as lawmakers debate whether to put the island’s nuclear future to an island-wide vote.
About 19.8 liters (5.2 gallons) has been collected from two leaking used-fuel pools inside Taiwan Power Co.’s No. 1 plant in the period, according to a report from the state oversight body, the Control Yuan. The Ministry of Economic Affairs was faulted for failing to properly supervise the utility, the report shows.
Opposition lawmakers brawled in the legislature on Aug. 2 to stave off an island-wide referendum on a fourth nuclear plant under construction 40 kilometers (25 miles) east of Taipei and estimated to cost almost $9 billion. President Ma Ying-jeou has pledged to abandon atomic energy as soon as economically and environmentally viable alternatives are found.
“The water collected was condensate from vapor during and after maintenance,” said Tsaiji Wu, general manager at Taiwan Power’s No. 1 plant. “It is contained in the plant and poses no danger to the environment or health of the staff.”
Taiwan Power, which first disclosed the leaks in 2011, is working to strengthen the sealing on the pools, Wu said. The Economic Affairs Ministry didn’t reply to phone and e-mail requests for comment.
“The amount of water leaked seems to have increased over the years,” according to the Aug. 7 Control Yuan report, which also said Taiwan Power had given inconsistent explanations. It called for the government’s atomic-energy regulator to determine the cause to stop the leak.
Nuclear energy accounts for a fifth of power supply on Taiwan, where coal, gas and natural gas are also used to generate electricity. Operating licenses for the No. 1 plant’s two units expire in 2018 and 2019, according to the Atomic Energy Council.
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