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U.S. to help Taiwan handle nuclear emergencies

2011/04/30 21:13:26

Taipei, April 30 (CNA) Taiwan will sign a letter of intent withthe United States on cooperation in handling nuclear or radiationemergencies, the deputy minister of the Cabinet-level Atomic EnergyCouncil (AEC) said Saturday.

"The pact will pave the way for the National Nuclear SecurityAdministration (NNSA) under the U.S. Department of Energy to assistus in case of nuclear emergencies, " said AEC Deputy Minister ShiehDer-jhy.

Shieh, who will depart for the U.S. Sunday to sign the accord onbehalf of Taiwan, said the recent radiation crisis at Japan'sFukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, which was crippled inearthquake/tsunami disasters that struck the country on March 11, hasprompted major countries around the world to review their energypolicies and nuclear power safety.

Japan's plight has also led the United States, a major nucleartechnology exporting country, to show unprecedented concern aboutTaiwan's response capability, Shieh said.

Besides its agencies in charge of nuclear energy matters, such asthe NNSA and the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC), Shieh said, thecountry's Department of State has also expressed concern aboutTaiwan's nuclear energy management model and regulations.

Shieh was referring to A. W. Reynolds, a science and technologyadviser to the U.S. secretary of state, who took the initiative tovisit Taiwan's nuclear power plant during his recent visit to Taipeito attend a global high-tech forum.

According to Shieh, Reynolds visited Taiwan's No. 1 nuclear powerplant in New Taipei City Friday to learn more about the plant'semergency response equipment and measures.

In addition to signing the letter of intent on cooperation innuclear emergency response, Shieh said he and some other AEC staffmembers will also meet with their NRC counterparts on nuclear safetyissues.

For years, Shieh said, staff members from the two agencies havemet annually either in the U.S. or in Taiwan to review Taiwan'snuclear safety control systems and measures.

During his upcoming U.S. trip, Shieh said he will also visitseveral NNSA laboratories and some units under the Department ofEnergy to learn more about the U.S. policy on nuclear energy in thewake of the recent Japanese nuclear crisis as well as its possiblenew radition control measures. He is scheduled to return on May 25.

(By Yang Shu-min and Sofia Wu)