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Environmental groups protest restarting nuclear reactor

2018/02/05 17:31:38

CNA file photo

Taipei, Feb. 5 (CNA) Environmental groups on Monday voiced opposition to Taiwan Power Co.'s (Taipower) planned reactivation of a nuclear reactor at the No. 2 nuclear power plant in Wanli, New Taipei, pointing to safety risks associated with the plan, while legislators across party lines expressed mixed views.

Taipower earlier that day applied to the Atomic Energy Council (AEC) for permission to restart the No. 2 reactor at the plant after more than 600 days, following the completion of reactor maintenance work in December 2017.

The application will proceed to the Legislature if it is approved by the AEC following a 30-day safety review.

If Taipower's request to restart the facility is approved, the reactor is expected to operate at full capacity of 985 megawatts (MW), a reserve margin of 3 percent of total power generation.

Jay Fang (方儉), chairman of the Green Consumers' Foundation, a Taiwanese environmental group, said that because the reactor has been offline since May 2016, it could be difficult to restart.

Based on past experience, restarting such a reactor can cause power outages and impact the general power supply system, Fang said, questioning whether Taipower has sufficient back-up power systems in place in the event of a power failure.

Taiwan Environmental Radiation Survey convener Lin Jui-chu (林瑞珠) lambasted Taipower for its decision, saying there is no power shortage in Taiwan.

Taiwan's total installed electricity capacity is about 51 gigawatts (GW), the peak usage during summer 2017 was around 37 GW, which means there is a power surplus of around 14 GW, according to Lin.

Lin also panned the government for reneging on its plan for Taiwan to be nuclear free by 2025.

Meanwhile, opposition Kuomintang legislative caucus whip Lee Yen-hsiu (李彥秀) said that Taipower's move means the government will fail to deliver on its promise to phase out nuclear power by 2025.

Lee said the ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) should take full responsibility for that failure and take the opportunity to review its national power policy.

However, Liu Chao-hao (劉櫂豪), leader of the DPP legislative caucus, pointed out that the No. 2 reactor at the No. 2 nuclear plant has been offline since May 2016 when it encountered a glitch in its electrical system during major maintenance. At that time, the Legislative Yuan decided it would be allowed to restart operations after the Legislature receives a safety report from the AEC.

Liu said the DPP caucus will decide whether to support reactivation of the reactor after reviewing the report.

Opposition New Power Party (NPP) caucus whip Hsu Yung-ming (徐永明) said the government's policy of making Taiwan nuclear-free by 2025 is clear and urged Taipower to scrap the plan.

Chen Yi-chieh (陳怡潔), opposition People First Party caucus leader, said Taiwan has experienced an unusually severe tightness in power supply this winter which has prompted the government to realize its nuclear-free homeland policy can not be achieved as quickly as thought.

Chen also called on the government to make a statement clarifying whether Taiwan is suffering from a power shortage and come up with a timetable and complementary measures to resolve the problem.

(By Wu Hsin-yun, Chen Chun-hua, Wang Cheng-chung, Justin Su and Evelyn
Kao)
Enditem/AW