TAIPEI, Taiwan — The Third Nuclear Power Plant’s (核三) No. 2 reactor’s outdoor transformer was shut down after a fire broke out yesterday morning, an Atomic Energy Council (AEC, 原能會) official has said.
AEC Vice Chairman Chou Yuan-ching (周源卿) said inspectors reported no radiation leakage due to the incident. While other power plant equipment was relatively unaffected by the fire, the No. 2 reactor will remain deactivated until the Taiwan Power Company (Taipower, 台電) sends in a report on the cause of the fire. Further inspection and approval by AEC is also required.
Taipower spokesman Lin Te-fu (林德福) said that the fire was extinguished 17 minutes after it broke out at 00:15 a.m. The undamaged No. 1 reactor is still activated and generating power.
Under AEC scrutiny, Taipower has created an investigation team to look into the cause of the reactor’s fire. Officials believe the fire was caused by a malfunctioning auxiliary step-down transformer in the second reactor.
The reasons why it went up in flames is a matter under continued investigation, the AEC said. Their findings will be published in two weeks’ time.
‘Red Light’ for Energy Supply
Taipower estimated the operation reserve rate will slide from 7.29 percent to 5.93 percent, meaning energy supply will be entering the “red light” emergency status.
Taiwan’s power supply will face challenges as half of the nation’s energy plants are inoperative. For example, the Third Nuclear Power Plant was shut down yesterday; the AEC has yet to approve reactivation of the First Nuclear Power Plant’s first reactor, and the Second Nuclear Power Plant’s first reactor is still undergoing maintenance.
Taipower will be conducting investigations into all the other nuclear power plants to ensure safety, as results show that this was not the first time a breakdown has occurred for the second reactor.
Due to frontal rains creeping upon Northern Taiwan forecasters are expecting a drop in temperature. Taipower executives have assured the nation that there will be enough energy as the cooler weather can help reduce electricity usage this week.
Other power supplies, including three emergency diesel generators, will be used in place of the second reactor so there will be no break in energy provision, Taipower said.
Yet, while it is expected that the second reactor will be fixed soon, the hydroelectric power supply will see low generation due to the draught this year. Taipower expects the first half of the year’s energy shortage to occur during mid-May.
Pingtung Gov’t Enraged at Delayed Notification
Pingtung County Government announced it will be prosecuting the Third Nuclear Power Plant under offenses against public safety, saying the plant has already failed to notify the government of eight instances of public safety danger in the past year.
In response to the weekend fire, a representative for the Third Nuclear Power Plant said as yesterday was a weekend and the fire had occurred in the early morning, the plant’s priority was to extinguish the fires.
However, a prolocutor for the county government Huang Chien-chia (黃建嘉) said the one-hour limit regulation was implemented for environmental pollution issues. The fire was considered an emergency, and the government ought to be notified immediately.
The Third Nuclear Power Plant notified the Pingtung government within an hour of the incident, the AEC at 0:17 a.m., but only notified the county fire department at 0:39 a.m.