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Suspend 4th nuclear plant project: environmentalists

2011/12/19 21:45:11

Taipei, Dec. 19 (CNA) Environmentalists on Monday called for work on Taiwan's fourth nuclear power plant to be suspended because the country's state-run utility, which is in charge of the facility, has failed to offer key safety solutions to perceived flaws in the plant.

Taiwan Power Company (Taipower) was to unveil a report assessing the plant's safety at a meeting convened by the Atomic Energy Council Tuesday, but politicians and activists who reviewed the report said they were not confident in its conclusions.

Green Citizen Action Alliance Secretary-General Tsui Su-hsin contended that Taipower dodged the core issues in the 100-page report and failed to meet national safety and construction standards.

"We cannot accept it as Taipower doesn't have an organized control system and was not willing to admit to problems," said Tsui, who indicated that the group will propose the suspension of the project at Tuesday's meeting.

The activists also called attention to what they saw as general problems with nuclear power.

Democratic Progressive Party Legislator Tien Chiu-chin said the radioactive waste generated in Taiwan over the past 30 years cannot be treated and is sufficient to produce 10,000 atomic bombs.

"It feels like we're taking the bombs to sleep everyday and I'm so grateful that nothing has happened when I wake up in the morning," Tien said.

Paul Jobin, a researcher at Academia Sinica, said similar problems exist in France, where nuclear power is widely used. France may not have earthquakes or tsunamis like Japan, but it still is overwhelmed by maintenance and radioactive waste issues, he said.

Jobin said many of the workers at the plants are exposed to extremely high levels of radiation and understand the problem, but their opinions are ignored because they are simply workers.

Over 80 percent of the people living near nuclear power plants in Taiwan believe they are at higher risk of health problems, according to the result of a survey conducted by the National Association for Radiation Protection in August. The survey also found that 55.8 percent of respondents in northern Taiwan and 55.7 percent of those in southern Taiwan opposed putting the fourth nuclear power plant into service.

(By Ho Meng-kuei and Maia Huang)