Taipei--State-owned fuel supplier CPC Corp, Taiwan (CPC) Chairman Chen Chin-te (???) has blamed an operational error in his company's natural gas supply that led to an islandwide power outage on Tuesday, describing it as being due to the "bad habit" of not following standard operating procedure (SOP).
The error occurred when a CPC contractor was called in to replace two power supplies in the control room of a CPC metering station near the Tatan power plant, the country's largest gas-fired power plant, owned and operated by state-run Taiwan Power Co. (Taipower).
While an engineer from electronics supplier Lumax International Corp. (????) was conducting the replacement, he and CPC staff members in the control room failed to first switch the power system to manual mode based on SOP, Chen said.
"They all failed to execute their duties based on the rules," said Chen when reporting to the press on the CPC's probe into the brief gas supply stoppage the previous day that caused all six generators of the Tatan plant to trip, cutting the country's supply of electricity by 4.5 million kilowatts.
The sudden drop in the supply caused a massive blackout that left 6.68 million households around Taiwan without power on Tuesday.
Chen admitted that before the latest replacement, seven other power supplies had been replaced, and that during the previous missions "not once was the system switched to manual mode."
This time it was "minor mistakes" during the replacement process that triggered an alarm, which automatically closed two motor valves in the natural gas pipeline that feeds the Tatan power plant, Chen said.
According to CPC data, the replacement was completed at 4:45 p.m. Tuesday. However, at 4:48 p.m. the control system flashed a signal suggesting abnormal conditions. At the same time, two motor valves in the natural gas pipeline feeding Tatan shut down automatically.
CPC staff tried to open the valves at 4:49 p.m. based on operational codes but they failed on the first attempt. A success was made on the second try, resuming the gas supply at 4:54.
The glitch, however, resulted in a supply stoppage for several minutes, the CPC data indicates.
Chen said that in the initial investigation into the incident, they found that similar procedural neglect has existed for a long time. Relevant CPC departments have similar problems, he added.
The company head pledged an immediate improvement and reinforced personnel training to correct the poor operational habits of CPC employees.
He also said that CPC will shoulder the full responsibility and will pay compensation for causing Taipower to suffer great losses due to the supply stoppage.
Meanwhile, Lumax issued a statement earlier in the day explaining that it is only a small material supplier to CPC, and is not obliged to execute the installment work for CPC, although it provides assistance voluntarily.
"During the problematic installment, it was CPC staff who guided and monitored the process. CPC personnel also took charge of the system's operations," the statement said.
Who should be held liable for the automatic shut-down of motor valves requires investigation by the relevant authorities, said the statement, which was published on the Market Observation Post System run by the Taiwan Stock Exchange (TWSE).
Lumax is a listed company in the electronics sector on the TWSE.
Source: Focus Taiwan News Channel