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Taipower request to restart nuclear plant reactor approved

Taipei, March 5 (CNA) Taiwan Power Co.’s (Taipower’s) application to restart the second reactor at its No. 2 nuclear plant in New Taipei’s Wanli District has gained approval from the Atomic Energy Council (AEC) following a 30-day safety review, according to the results of the AEC safety review released Monday.

Taipower’s application will now proceed to the Legislative Yuan if it requests a safety report from the AEC before allowing the reactor to restart, according to AEC Deputy Minister Chiou Syh-tsong (邱賜聰).

The reactor has been offline since May 2016, when it encountered a glitch in its electrical system during major maintenance work.

According to regulations governing the operation and maintenance of nuclear power plants, routine maintenance work on the plants is performed every 18 months.

The last round of maintenance on the second reactor at the No. 2 nuclear plant was completed in December 2017, and the glitch was apparently solved. Taipower then filed an application Feb. 5 to restart the reactor, according to the AEC.

If the reactor is allowed to restart, it is expected to operate at full capacity of 985 megawatts (MW), boosting Taipower’s operating power reserve margin — the percentage of generating capacity available to the power grid that can be called upon within a short period of time — by 3 percent.

Also Monday, an environmental group filed a lawsuit with the Taipei District Prosecutors Office against Minister of Economic Affairs Shen Jong-chin (沈榮津) and Taipower Chairman Yang Wei-fu (楊偉甫) for allegedly forging documents and for public safety violations.

Jay Fang (方儉), chairman of the Green Consumers’ Foundation, said that while the second reactor at the No. 2 nuclear plant has been suspended since May 2016, Taipower still filed an application for its maintenance, and accused the state-run company of forging related documents.

On the charges of public safety violations, Fang said that if natural disasters occur due to the restarting of the nuclear reactor, it could endanger the life, health and property of the public.

In response, the Ministry of Economic Affairs expressed its respect for the group’s assertion and action, saying that Taipower filed the application to restart the reactor in accordance with due process of law.