Human error causes Taiwan's nuclear plant shutdown

Taiwan's No. 1 nuclear power plant located in the densely populated north of the island was automatically shut down on Saturday due to human error, the operator of the facility said Tuesday.

Chai Fu-feng, a spokesman of Taiwan Power Co. (Taipower), told Kyodo News that the Unit 2 reactor of the Chinshan nuclear power station in New Taipei City was automatically shut down when instruments detected too much water in the reactor pressure vessel.

Power shedding was activated as part of the procedure to protect the reactor when Typhoon Soulik lashed northern Taiwan on Saturday, he said.

However, when a plant worker switched off a draining valve to control the heat in the reactor, the outcome did not turn out to be what he had expected, he said.

Panicking, he added water to the reactor to keep the water level up, but he added too much water too fast, which eventually caused the reactor to automatically scram, he said.

After fixing all the problems, Taipower submitted a report to Taiwan's Atomic Energy Council on Monday for review in accordance with regulations.

Chen Yi-pi, director of the council's Department of Nuclear Regulation, said the shutdown of the reactor posed no risk to public safety and there was no release of radiation into the air or water.

However, the Unit 2 reactor will not be reconnected to the national grid until the council gives the green light, he said.

Chai said that if the council agrees to let them reactivate the reactor on Wednesday, the plant could begin generating power on Thursday.