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4th nuke plant safe from quakes, tsunamis: gov't

TAIPEI -- An assessment by a panel of experts has found that the possibility of earthquake and tsunami affecting the safety of the nation's fourth nuclear power plant is minimal, according to the Ministry of Economic Affairs (MOEA).

The safety assessment report concluded that the nuclear power plant in northeast Taiwan will not be affected by the consequences of ground movements or undersea volcanoes in its neighboring areas.

According to the report, no faults have been found active recently within or near the fourth nuclear plant in New Taipei, while a fault structure located near a turbine building of the plant has proved to be not a capable fault as defined by the nuclear guide of the United States.

A capable fault is a fault which has movement at or near the ground surface at least once within the past 35,000 years, or has movement of a recurring nature within the past 500,000 years, according to the United States Nuclear Regulatory Commission.

In addition, the experts panel's analysis of ground motion found that the strength of potential earthquakes surrounding the fourth nuclear plant is far smaller than the plant's earthquake-resistant design.

The water vaporing of Gueishan Island, the only active volcanic island in Taiwan, is easing off and would not have any impact on the fourth nuclear plant, the ministry said, citing results of recent research papers.

Okinawa Trough Fountains Won't Impact on Nuke 4: MOEA

Moreover, the undersea fountains around the southern Okinawa Trough are occurring about 1,400 kilometers deep under the sea level and would not affect the fourth nuclear plant, the ministry said.

The MOEA has completed the safety report and delivered it to Taiwan's nuclear safety regulator, the Atomic Energy Council, Sunday evening. Economics Minister Chang Chia-juch (張家祝) is scheduled to present the report to a legislative committee Monday.

The plant has undergone repeated starts and stops for over a decade due to political wrangling.

Opposition to nuclear power has grown in Taiwan following the meltdown of the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant in Japan in 2011, leaving the government hard-pressed to convince a skeptical population that the plant can be operated safely.

The government, which does not want to see the more than NT$300 billion (US$9.93 billion) injected into the plant to date go to waste, still sees nuclear power as the cheapest and cleanest way to generate power in Taiwan, which currently generates nearly 80 percent of its electricity using fossil fuels.

Taiwan has three active nuclear power plants, which are scheduled to be decommissioned between 2018 and 2025.

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