Taiwan’s Oldest Nuclear Reactor May Be Restarted: If Safe…

The premier of Taiwan said he supported restarting the first reactor at the Jinshan Nuclear Power Plant, if it is safe to do so. The comments were made Sunday June 5, as Taiwan faces a power crisis caused by limited supply and high demand, as the nation cranks up air-conditioners to cope with record high temperatures for June.

Problems with the reactor, at Taiwan’s oldest nuclear power plant caused it to be shut down for maintenance in December 2014. The Atomic Energy Council (AEC) approved a safety report in April 2015 after maintenance work was carried out on the facility. The AEC made four attempts to table the safety report to the legislature. However, the legislature under the recently departed KMT (Chinese Nationalist Party) government refused to put the report on the agenda.

Even if the report is passed, and the reactor is restarted, it is due to be decommissioned in 2018. The Democratic People’s Party who holds the presidency and majority power in the legislature, has promised to make Taiwan nuclear free by 2025.

Taipower, the state monopoly power provider has been urging the government to approve plans to restart the plant. Power demand in the last couple of weeks has seen reserve capacity falling to as little as 1.6%, bringing the risk of brownouts and power rationing. Taipower officials claim the reactor could increase reserve supply by 1.7%.

If the AEC can get the safety report tabled and approved by the legislature, it can have the power plant restarted in just three or four days.

Anti-nuclear activists in Taiwan claim that the Jinshan Nuclear Power Plant, also known as First Nuclear Power Plant, is the most dangerous in the world.

A reactor at the Second Nuclear Power Plant (Guosheng/Kuosheng Nuclear Power Plant) shutdown half an hour after being restarted following a month-long maintenance May 16, and may be offline until sometime in July, putting further pressure on electricity supplies.

A Taipower spokesperson refused to acknowledge claims that an explosion had occurred at the facility.

“The exact meaning of ‘explosion’ is subject to different interpretations,” said Taipower spokesman Lin Te-fu (林德福)…Electric current is energy in itself and after the rubber in the surge protectors started burning, the air inside expanded and pushed out, ruining the rubber and affecting surrounding objects.”

Mr Lin stated that what had occurred was not an explosion, but a “high-temperature extrusion”.

Picture of damaged generator at a Taiwan's Second Nuclear Power Plant
Pictures provided by a whistle-blower showing what Taipower has described as a “high-temperature extrusion” that occurred 35 minutes after a nuclear reactor was restarted May 16, 2016. The reactor had passed a safety inspection by the operators. Taipower (Taiwan Power Company) refused to release pictures of the incident.

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