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June 25, 2017

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Typhoon Soulik causes nuclear reactor shutdown

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- Typhoon Soulik's strong winds caused one of the reactors at Taiwan's First Nuclear Power Plant to automatically shut down as part of precautionary measures twice on Saturday.

At 2:50 a.m. on July 13, strong winds knocked out systems designed to reduce the likelihood of direct lighting strikes on the facility at the plant's number two reactor unit, resulting in an automatic shutdown. While repairs were carried out on the system, the reading for the number of neutrons became exceedingly high, once again leading to an emergency shutdown as part of protection measures.

Taiwan Power Co. (台電) nuclear energy spokesman Tsai Fu-feng (蔡豐富) said both shutdowns are part of protection measures and "there are no safety concerns." Tsai said however that there is room for improvement in the handling of the power plant.

Taipower, as Taiwan Power Company is otherwise known, said yesterday that the affected lighting-reduction systems had been fixed.

AEC to Review Incident

Taipower said it had planned to submit a report regarding the incident to the Atomic Energy Council (AEC, 原能會) by yesterday afternoon, though no confirmation of this submission was available at the time of going to print. Upon the report's approval at the AEC, the power plant is expected to be reconnected to the national power grid. It may take between 8 and 12 hours for activation at the earliest.

The typhoon also led to a significant amount of detritus blocking the water inlet. The company will not only need to acquire approval from the AEC but also fix the blockage before the power plant resumes normal function.

Tsai said the shutdown would not affect the country's power supply. To meet the high electricity demand of summer days, Taipower may transfer power from Southern or Central Taiwan to fill the gap, Tsai said.

The AEC said similar incidents have happened at the country's nuclear power plants, and is still waiting on Taipower's report for a detailed explanation of the cause and description of the accompanying procedures for handling the accident.

Continue Safety Procedure: Taipower

Taipower said that over the past decade there have been a lot fewer reactor shutdowns across the country's nuclear plants.

The company said it will do its best to continue with precautionary measures to ensure Nuke One's safety. Taipower also stressed that the affected reactor's life span will not be affected.

Nuclear Power Plant Number Two suffered its own automatic shutdown on June 21. One of the reactor's automatically shut down after a warning system detected an abnormally large electrical current caused by a malfunctioning blade damper. The reactor and generator's protection mechanism automatically kicked in.

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