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Taiwan to realize nuclear-free goal in a pragmatic way: official

2011/08/12 21:11:32

Washington, Aug. 11 (CNA) Taiwan's top environmental official said Thursday that Taiwan will realize its goal of becoming nuclear-free in a pragmatic way, noting that the most crucial order of business is to first forge a consensus on nuclear energy and the various forms of alternative energy.

Stephen Shu-hung Shen, head of the Environmental Protection Administration, was responding to media questions after delivering a speech at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, a D.C. think tank.

On questions about Taiwan's nuclear energy policy and the advocacy of Taiwan's main opposition party, the Democratic Progressive Party, of scrapping the use of the nuclear energy by 2025, he said the question is not whether or not to use nuclear energy, but "how" and how fast" can the country realize the goal of becoming nuclear-free in a pragmatic way.

He said that the radioactive leakage from the crippled Fukushima nuclear power plant in Japan has made Taiwan rethink its nuclear power policy, and it is now working to cut nuclear use as it moves toward becoming nuclear-free under environmental protection regulations.

However, on the DPP's adovacy of scrapping the use of nuclear energy by 2025, Shen described it as "irresponsible," stressing again that the focus should be on ways to achieve the goal rather than simply setting an arbitrary date.

If Taiwan needs more solar power, wind power and biomass energy, the first thing to work out is how to achieve 100 percent solar, wind power and biomass energy reliance.

The immediate question is that if the country cannot find alternative energy for 100 percent of its requirements, "we must build our energy strategy, alternative energy and a consensus on the bottom line for prices for each kind of energy, including how much the government should pay and how much of the costs should be borne by consumers."

The process for seeking such consensus will not rely just on the statement of one leader or presidential candidate alone, he said.

He also said that since the Fukushima nuclear power plant disaster, the safety of nuclear power plants has become a matter of great concern. As there are nuclear power plants on both sides of the Taiwan Strait, President Ma Ying-jeou thinks it is a serious issue, and both sides have included nuclear safety in cross-strait talks, although he was not sure if an agreement will be signed in a coming round of talks.

Shen is currently on an 11-day visit to the United States, where he will call on U.S. officials, visit environmental protection facilities, various think tanks, and attend conferences before returning to Taiwan Aug. 20.

(By Chou Yung-chieh and Lilian Wu)