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No.1 nuclear plant may be retired ahead of schedule: minister

2011/09/29 15:47:15

Taipei, Sept. 29 (CNA) The Ministry of Economic Affairs (MOEA) has not ruled out the possibility of closing Taiwan's first nuclear power plant sooner than scheduled, providing that the fourth one can function stably when it comes on stream, Economics Minister Shih Yen-shiang said Thursday.

The government would prefer not to extend the life of the three nuclear power plants that are currently in operation, Shih said in a presentation to the Economics Committee of the Legislative Yuan.

However, the construction of the Lungmen or No. 4 Nuclear Power Plant in New Taipei City, which began in 1999, will continue, he said. If it can come online in time, the reactors at the No.1 plant will be shut down sooner than the scheduled dates in 2018 and 2019, he added.

"Safety is the basic consideration. We are confident that the No. 4 plant will begin operations as scheduled," he said in response to Kuomintang (KMT) Legislator Ting Shou-chung's question on whether Shih was certain of the start date for the new plant.

Meanwhile, the MOEA has withdrawn an application that was submitted to the Atomic Energy Council to extend the life of the Chinshan Nuclear Power Plant or the first nuclear power plant in New Taipei City's Shihmen District, Shih said.

The question of when the No. 2 plant in city's Wanli District will be retired depends on the overall power supply situation in the country, he said. It must be ensured that there will be no power shortage, he added.

He also said Taiwan has no timetable for achieving a nuclear-free environment.

Nuclear power policies should be made on the basis of no power rationing, reasonable electricity rates and meeting global demands to reduce carbon emissions, he said.

The issue of whether to proceed with Taiwan's fourth nuclear power plant has come to the forefront in Taiwan since a nuclear disaster occurred in Japan in March as result of a devastating earthquake and tsunami there.

(By Lin Shu-yuan and Kendra Lin)
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