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Taipower generators shut down in wake of incident

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- Four sets of Taiwan Power Company's (Taipower) generators fed with natural gas were shut down on the night of Aug. 1 as the company coordinated with Kaohsiung City government in rescue efforts and underground pipeline repair.

The four generators, fed with liquid natural gas, are located in Kaohsiung and supply utilities to the city. The shutdown will lower the island's electricity output by 1100-megawatts, about 2.7 percent of the total capacity.

Taipower said the temporary shutdown will not affect local residents in the short run. It called on the public to conserve energy, nevertheless.

A series of gas explosions on the night of July 31 erupted along 2-3 square kilometers in Kaohsiung City, killing 26 people with more than 280 injured.

Although pipelines supplying natural gas to the four generators remained intact, Taipower decided to halt the supply so that road repair and other disaster relief work could proceed without interruption. This decision was reached after discussion between oil refinery CPC Corporation and Kaohsiung City Government. The four generators stopped service at 10:30 p.m. on Friday.

As most generators on the island continue operating, they will be capable of churning out 36,970 megawatts during peak hours next week. Taipower has a 3,170-megawatt excess capacity, and therefore it is capable of meeting local energy demand, the company said.

Evacuation Could Have Resulted in More Casualties: Kaohsiung

In response to the criticism that the government should have implemented a mass evacuation plan after it learned about the potential hazard, city officials said this might not have been the best course of action.

Officials of Kaohsiung City Government pointed out that most of the injured were out in the open when the explosion occurred. If an evacuation was carried out, there could have been more casualties.

According to Kaohsiung City Government, officials requested people to stay indoors when the danger loomed. There were less casualties among people who stayed inside, said officials.

Since such devastating events rarely happen in Taiwan, the government is not always fully prepared to handle such disasters, but it is willing to learn and reflect on the best course of action for the future. However, the priority right now is rescue work, said Kaohsiung City Government.

Upon learning of the potential hazard, the city government did follow the correct procedure right away, requesting a stoppage on gas transport, said the city government, adding that it will not dodge the public's inquiries and is willing to shoulder any responsibility if necessary.

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