The Unitary Police Service (SPU) yesterday led a local youth delegation to the Taishan Nuclear Power Plant in Guangdong Province with the purpose of educating the public on power generation and dispelling concerns about this specific reactor, which lies less than 80 kilometers west of Macau and has been a source of alarm for years.
According to the government, the tour not only served to educate young people in Macau on the topic of nuclear safety, but also to “strengthen their knowledge on the development of the Motherland.”
This visit was part of a series of youth-oriented activities in the field of security and included the participation of several government officials and representatives of the SPU, the Office of the Chief Executive, the Macao Foundation, the Public Security Police Force, the Fire Services and the Government Information Bureau.
At the plant, located in the village of Chexi in Jiangmen, Guangdong Province, the delegation was received by the general manager of the Taishan Nuclear Energy Company, Deng Zhengpeng, who led the tour through the facility.
The group visited the Taishan Nuclear Plant’s simulation training room and the nuclear power plant construction center where they were introduced to the processes that went into construction and energy production. The group was also presented with the measures adopted to reduce the possibility of human error, as well as contingency plans in case of an incident at the plant.
The Taishan Nuclear Power Plant features currently one operational Electron Paramagnetic Resonance (EPR) reactor with a second reactor being still under construction.
The first unit, codenamed Taishan 1, came online and was connected to the grid in August last year and entered into commercial operation in December. Its operation had been delayed by around five years, having been first expected in 2013.
The second unit of Taishan is expected to enter into full operation this year, and will double the energy production of the plant.
The visit and statement appear to come as an answer to concerns about the nuclear power facility which, although less vocal in the past year, have persisted despite the assurances provided by local municipal authorities and the operating company. According to the SPU, similar tour group activities will be held in future with the aim of dispelling doubts about nuclear safety.
Media in Macau and Hong Kong have raised concerns about the safety of the nuclear power plant on several occasions.
Confidence in the site’s safety plummeted in mid-2016 after it was discovered that the company had not been forthcoming over the origin of some operational components, which had been sourced from mainland China instead of France as previously thought.
The company argued that the reactors at Taishan met all international technology and safety standards.
Eighteen months later, fresh concerns mounted after it was revealed that one of the key power generation system components had cracked during an earlier pre-production test. The news followed reports of other alarming defects or problems in major infrastructure projects in the region, including falsified concrete assessments for the then under construction Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau Bridge.
A report published around one year ago, following a safety inspection from the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA), had identified six major issues in Taishan 1. According to the report, the problems included equipment malfunction such as a failure of reactor monitoring systems and human error in responding to false alarms.
The report then stated that Taishan Nuclear Power Joint Venture, “must rectify the problems before starting up the reactor,” while calling for “increased training for operating staff in order to minimize human error.”
Earlier last year the NNSA had already published another inspection report which listed 20 areas for improvement at Taishan, including “unclear roles and responsibilities” concerning fuel loading as well as pointing out defects in the welding of pipelines among other procedures which the operator was instructed to perform inspections and testing. DB/RM