Taiwan's Nuclear Problems

In the Chinese-language media, there are many ominous warnings about Taiwan’s fourth home-grown nuclear power plant. Things like how the contractors hired out to build the infrastructure of the plant cut corners and didn’t know anything about actually building a nuclear power plant. Things like how one of the businessmen who profited from the construction of the plant confessed to never thinking the government would actually try to operate the power plant. Things like how storage of nuclear waste is overflowing…

Here are the English articles I could dig up. What do you all think about the safety of all this? Taipei is within 40 kms of this new nuclear plant (located in Gongliao in New Taipei: goo.gl/maps/4Ymxo), located on the northeast coast.

taipeitimes.com/News/front/a … 2003545779

“According to nuclear accident simulations he has run, people living in Taipei and New Taipei City’s (新北市) Yonghe (永和), Jhonghe (中和), Banciao (板橋), Sanchong (三重), Lujhou (蘆洲) and Pingsi (平溪) would all be directly affected by radiation, leading to an estimated 30,000 deaths in the first month after any such incident and up to 7 million possibly dying of cancer in the following years.”

guardian.co.uk/world/2012/fe … ?fb=optOut

"Taiwan’s first three nuclear facilities were turnkey projects subcontracted to General Electric and Westinghouse, the leading US companies in this business. But the NPP-4 is the result of a laborious process supervised by Taipower, the public electricity utility.

“The longer the project went on, the more it cost and the more cost-cutting there was,” says a Taipower employee."

globalvoicesonline.org/2011/03/1 … high-risk/

globalpost.com/dispatch/news … en-lungmen


Normally I don’t have much time for anti nuclear scaremongering , but I saw pictures of the corroded barrels at the nuclear waste dump in lanyu, not cool.


At least 50’C, I would guess.

The Taiwanese seem to treat nuclear reactors like they’re just a bigger sort of scooter. Dangerous, but not dangerous enough to pay any real attention.

This is what I was talking about, scroll down the article. Pictures speak a thousand words. This is, hopefully , low level waste that was stored at Lanyu, but look at the level of corrosion the barrels have suffered. What was crazier was that personnel were moving the waste into new barrels without protective gear!


That settles it, Taiwan ladder safety logic is genetic.

… so, what I want to know is… is anybody worried about this?! The overflowing nuclear waste, the haphazard handling of the waste… and… the imminent starting of a fourth nuclear power plant that was built improperly!!!

I read some of those articles and I feel as though I ought to be worried, but to be honest I just think meh!

Maybe it’s because the consequences of a failure are so enormous it’s just too big to comprehend.

The president says it’s safe though, what more do you want?

I dont know if I’m worried as much as astounded that the waste was handled like this. I mean if you look at how they are stored the bottom ones disintegrated from the pressure of the top ones, and the concrete/glass mix of dust or whatever it is obviously became airborne during this process. Supposedly a Japanese scientist detected abnormally high radiation levels around this period.
Taipower and the Taiwanese scientist said he miscalibrated his instruments.
Anyway…how come the barrels are stacked upon themselves like that and why are they simply restocked in the same manner, they will surely corrode again.

As for the 4th nuclear power plant, it has cost so much at this stage and it is of a newer design than the older plants, they need this one to open to shut down the older ones. There are some incosistencies in the guardian article, the greenpeace spokesman claiming taipower has no experience in handling nuclear power plants is patently false as they have 3 in operation for decades already. They also use contractors for the 4th plant, they don’t manufacture the nuclear reactors themselves.

Taiwan suffers from very severe air pollution, for me a modern nuclear paper plant is less of a worry than the worlds biggest coal powered station being located on the coast of the city my family lives in!

ignorance is bliss. im worried, but like most know nothing about it, or how to replace it nor how to deal with the people in charge of doing something about it. more importantly, however, I’m often too lazy to bother spending a couple hours on google to figure it out.

i read a little bit ago that this new plant is also within XX km (I wan tto say 30) of an undersea volcano. how is this for earthquake/tsunami risk?

as usual, motivation is the only step remaining to a clean/safe power grid.

Supposedly lanyu is at risk of a tsunami hitting it. So is Kending. I would believe that. If you go Kending you can see it has some odd features on the hillsides, that make me suspect , in an amateurish fashion, that it has been hit with tsunamis in the past.

codata2012.tw/presentation/numer … ern-taiwan

According to simulations Kending and the nuclear power plant could be hit by a 3.5m high wave. Other areas like Qijin could be destroyed and Tainan would be badly damaged.

It should be noted that the Fukushima reactor problem was more a manade incident, with extremely poor planning and design. You don’t place your backup generator in the same location and same place as your main facility on an earthquake prone coast. They had been warned about this many times but decided to save money and play the odds.

That is pretty careless handling regardless of how contaminated the content of the barrels are. Just to be clear but that is certainly not spent fuel. It’s most likely water that got trace amounts of contamination. Nuclear waste ‘should’ be stored in multiple layers of steel lined concrete (measured in inches and feet respectively). One thing I don’t understand is how there are so many barrels there. I worked at a 2 unit nuclear power plant 10 years ago (30+ yrs of operation) and there was nowhere near that amount of waste and all waste was stored onsite.

The corner cutting on the construction of the 4th nuclear plant troubles me though. It kind of sums up some of Taiwan’s problems since someone has confessed that despite spending probably billions of NT that he didn’t think they would actually try to operate the plant. Everyone has to get their own I guess.

This is the link to the article (in Chinese) about the guy who confessed to being paid a wad of cash to build certain infrastructure elements for the 4th Plant, and basically cutting as many corners as possible in order to make as much money as possible, 'cuz heck, they ain’t never really gonna open the plant!

appledaily.com.tw/appledaily … D%E5%8E%BB

I’m going to copy+paste the contents of the article below, just in case the “powers that be” try to force the media outlet to erase the article… (I’ll spend some time some time in the future translating the article into English, too. If anyone wants to help, that would be great!)

人間異語:你敢運轉核四 我逃命去
2012年11月26日 更多專欄文章

Different Words: You Dare Run the Fourth Nuclear Power Plant - I’m Running for My Life
November 26, 2012

H先生 中小企業主

Mr. H, small/medium-sized enterprise owner.
Q: Your background is in a traditional business, how did you end up taking a contract for the Fourth Nuclear Power Plant?
A: People shouldn’t be greedy, but I am just too greedy! My background is in trade, and I made a bit of money. Ten years earlier, someone told me, “A” Company has a lot of potential, it’s the future Taiwan Semiconductor (TSMC). “A” Company’s General Manager said, the metal pipes they manufactured were high-tech, requiring special skills and knowledge, and they didn’t rust. Because the CEO of “A” Company once held political office, owing to “guanxi”, they could instead use water pipes inside the power plant, and make a fortune; the estimated cost of the new Fourth Nuclear Power Plant was to be NT$180,000,000,000, we would only need a contract for NT$10,000,000,000 and that would be enough. Thus, I invested NT$40,000,000. When the new company opened, politicians, investors, and high-ranking bank officials came to celebrate the occasion in a grand fashion.


“Living Life in Fear”
At the beginning, our company accepted contracts for normal power plants, and afterwards started bidding for Fourth Nuclear Power Plant contracts. Within the bidding process, our company spent NT$150,000,000 on “activities”, and later won the contract for an NT$1,000,000,000 engineering job, and had to pay kick-backs. After we won the contract, we sub-contracted out each different job, and those in turn were sub-sub-contracted out. All of the companies that actually did the work were small, unknown companies - they couldn’t even read the English blueprints.

At the time, many Taiwanese manufacturing businesses started being moved abroad, and the electricity being used domestically was very little. The Minying Electric Plant’s capacity had been increased significantly, and as we were working on that plant, we heard a lot of this type of news… news to the effect that there was no need for a nuclear power plant, electrical capacity for the nation was more than enough. As we worked on the Fourth Nuclear Power Plant, we didn’t seriously do the work, the engineering bore no resemblance to real engineering, it was just a show. At the time, we all said that the Fourth Nuclear Power Plant would never operate - we were just there to launder the money!

I never thought that after the government halted work on the Fourth Nuclear Power Plant, although our company received tens of millions, still a portion of the project cost and government payments were not forthcoming… our company went bankrupt. My tens of millions of dollars just disappeared like this, I felt like I had been fooled by a con-artist, my first thought was that the ringleaders were government officials and bank executives.

Actually, my company’s capital only amounted to just over NT$400,000,000, and we arranged loans of NT$1,200,000,000 from the banks, all arranged via our contacts with bank executives. We used people with no assets as guarantors - if anything happened, we wouldn’t have to repay the loans. In addition, our company had legislators as investors, so after our company went bankrupt, I was okay for a few years. I never thought that the banks would sell our loan claim to debt collection companies; they want the money, of course, so I started having to attend court often.


Q: The way you guys built the plant, don’t you feel guilty?
A: At the beginning, we really thought the Fourth Nuclear Power Plant would never be operated, it was just a way for our company to make easy money - build any which-way. When they re-started construction of the Fourth Nuclear Power Plant, our company no longer existed, but the plant was rusty, crumbling… and despite this, the work to continue building was still contracted and sub-contracted out. Nobody knew how many contractors and sub-contractors were involved, and it would be impossible to have anyone responsible for anything. Although I felt frightened, I still felt, there’s no way they are going to run this Nuclear Plant, it’s just an ATM.

But later, I became more and more frightened, because it seemed that politicians wanted the Fourth Nuclear Power Plant to be put into operation… especially when I saw generators being shipped in… really frightening. I really do feel guilty, everyday I live in fear, I am really worried that when they try to start the Fourth Nuclear Power Plant that it will explode, and my home in Taipei will disappear.


If there’s any problem with the Fourth Nuclear Power Plant, “Dibao Residences” (the most expensive properties in Taiwan) will also disappear.
In Taipei, on Jinghua Street, I have a 50 Ping mansion, including a garden in the sky, but I don’t dare live there. My entire family has moved to Taoyuan. If there’s a problem with the Nuclear Plant, people need to be at least 30 kms away, at the very least in Linkou.

我兒子念心理系,說我病了,罹患核電恐慌症,但我們的財富都在台北,核電廠一出事,帝寶也沒用,所以帝寶也有人出來反核啊。就像帝寶蓋了17年, 每一層都換承包商,你還敢住嗎?

Q: According to the Americans, the standard is an 80 km Exclusion Zone in the event of a nuclear disaster, so there’s still danger (beyond the 30 km exclusion zone)?
A: At least, from Taoyuan, it’s much quicker to escape to Taizhong. I have a house in Taizhong, too. A lot of people know that Nuclear Power is dangerous, but they’re helpless. Taiwanese are like cows, when they know death is imminent, they’ll merely cry, they won’t run. However, I am not a cow, I want to run away as quickly as possible.

My son studied psychology and said I have a sickness, “nuclear power panic disorder”, but all my money is invested in Taipei. If the Fourth Nuclear Power Plant experiences a disaster, “Dibao Residences” will disappear, so the residents there have come out to oppose nuclear power. Just as Dibao was built 17 years ago, each floor was built by different sub-contractors… do you dare live there?

Reported by Chen Yumei

Corruption is obviously rampant in Taiwan, it’s definitely the major problem with government projects big and small, everybody wants their piece of the pie.
However this is the Apple Daily and there are no names given in the article, so it’s just not much use in the end.
Personally I have heard directly about corruption in ITRI from high level officials including professors, we can see that ITRI hasn’t much successes in the recent past, no wonder why.

[quote=“headhonchoII”]Corruption is obviously rampant in Taiwan, it’s definitely the major problem with government projects big and small, everybody wants their piece of the pie.
However this is the Apple Daily and there are no names given in the article, so it’s just not much use in the end.
Personally I have heard directly about corruption in ITRI from high level officials including professors, we can see that ITRI hasn’t much successes in the recent past, no wonder why.[/quote]

Of course the guy doesn’t want his real name used… he’d be sleeping with the fishes!

Apple Daily is (was) the only media in Taiwan that can be trusted not to be controlled by the factions from China. The rest of the newspapers and many of the other types of media are controlled by Want Media: wantchinatimes.com/

Just read those articles to get a taste for what the people of Taiwan are now facing… Taiwan in its entirety is headed down a road I don’t like.

Yep but Apple Daily has also run a lot of bogus stories over the years. I’m not saying this isn’t true, it sure has the ring of truth about it in how the pigs gather around the trough and put together these schemes, but without names or details it’s just hearsay.

It’s entirely true that this is a bogus story (and I hope it is, for I quite like Taipei and many of the people here), but why take the risk and continue to live in Taipei? At the very least, I’m going to live somewhere a bit farther away from danger for the near-term… let’s see if the KMT fulfills their promise to start the Fourth Nuclear Power Plant by the end of Ma’s term in 2016.

Well, there, I’ve translated the entire article and contributed to the knowledge of Forumosans! Don’t say nobody warned you, folks.

Here’s another article about the dangers of the Fourth Nuclear Power Plant (different media source): businessweekly.com.tw/article.php?id=48522

There’s no need to live away from Taipei because of this plant.

  • It’s not due to be operational for years and may never open
    -It’s of a better design than the older ones and there are other reactors in North Taiwan and one in South Taiwan
    -Air pollution, traffic, psycho xiaojies or a bad diet are FAR worse real dangers to your health

Why would that corrupt builder be running away? the plant isn’t even hot yet, and probably never will be.

Just to calm all your minds, here’s an ad taken out in a recent newspaper by Taipower… just to assure the people of Taiwan that there’s nothing nuclear to be scared of.

(NB: The girl’s name reads phonetically as “dian po er”, using the characters “electric/onomatopoeia/onomatopoeia”, which sounds like “Electric Power” using a combination of Mandarin and English. The boy’s name reads phonetically as “gai pi li”, using the characters “build/super/super”, which sounds like “Build Awesome” using a combination of Mandarin and Taiwanese. Brainwashing at its finest!)

30,000 People Will Die in the Event of a Nuclear Disaster?
-Really? No, Not Really!

Electric Power (Girl): Build Awesome (Boy)! Have you heard that recently a Japanese professor came to Taiwan to warn us that if northern Taiwan experiences a nuclear accident, that 30,000 people will die and 7 million will get cancer? It sounds horrific!
BA: Last year’s 3/11 Japanese Earthquake & Tsunami caused the Fukushima Nuclear Disaster and indeed many people were scared. However, Taiwan’s nuclear power plants are designed much better than Fukushima’s nuclear power plant. Two totally different things!
EP: Even if our designs are different, it’s still all nuclear power, isn’t it?
BA: That’s true. But, let’s look at the Fukushima accident. Do you know how many people died because of it?
EP: Using the logic of the Japanese professor that came to Taiwan, the death toll must have been 30,000.
BA: Wrong!
EP: 10,000?
BA: Wrong!
EP: 1,000?
BA: Wrong!
EP: Could it be that nobody died?
BA: That’s right! According to Japanese statistics, even though 15,000 people died during that disaster… they all died due to the earthquake or the tsunami. Nobody died because of the nuclear disaster.
EP: But, wasn’t there a lot of nuclear radiation emitted? Thus, we cannot eat Japanese produce.
BA: Indeed, there was nuclear contamination, but amongst those affected, 99.99% of the accumulated radiation is just as much as two years of normal background radiation, nothing that will affect your health!
EP: No wonder I haven’t heard anything about any Japanese dying from radiation or getting cancer. Yes, Build Strong! You just said that our nuclear power plant designs are better than Fukushima’s - how so?
BA: Don’t be in such a rush, I’ll tell you another day… (to be continued)