Saturday, June 19, 2010

Nuclear power plant a ‘disaster’: contractor

The Kuosheng nuclear power plant in Wanli (萬里), Taipei County, is an “absolute disaster,” according to the head of a diving company charged with conducting underwater maintenance at the plant.

Making assertions that raise concerns about the safety of the plant, Robert Greenspan, president of the Rapid City, South Dakota-based Midco Diving and Marine Services, said during a telephone interview with the Taipei Times on Tuesday last week that Taiwan Power Corp (TPC), the operator of the nuclear power plant, was treating the suppression pool — a critical component in case of an emergency — as a “garbage dump.”

The cleaning contract for the suppression pool was awarded to Taiwanese firm Ming Tai and subcontracted to A&P Solar Enterprises, a California-based company. A&P in turn subcontracted the diving portion of the work to Midco.

Greenspan’s company conducted underwater maintenance at Unit 2 in November 2008 and March last year.

Soon after starting work at the suppression pool — a 6m deep pool surrounding the nuclear reactor that can release large quantities of water to cool the reactor to prevent a meltdown — Greenspan’s team came upon a scene they were not prepared for.

“I’ve worked in half a dozen nuclear plants in the US,” Greenspan said. “I’d never seen anything like this … You could find everything short of a bicycle in there.”

Among the foreign objects found were cable spools, oxygen tanks and masks. As they were doing work, more debris kept falling in, Greenspan said.

This article, published today in the Taipei Times, continues here.

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