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President Tsai challenges Mayor Han's nuclear policy

2019/08/22 22:09:18

President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文)

Taipei, Aug. 22 (CNA) President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) on Thursday urged Kaohsiung Mayor Han Kuo-yu (韓國瑜) to first address the problem of how to deal with waste fuel before proposing to activate Taiwan's mothballed fourth nuclear power plant.

Tsai told journalists after attending an event in Taipei that Han should find a solution to the disposal of nuclear waste after the opposition Kuomintang's (KMT's) 2020 presidential candidate said he, if elected president, would activate the fourth nuclear power plant as long as its safety could be ensured and the public agreed.

Han should have "done his homework" before proposing a policy, Tsai said.

Taiwan halted the fourth nuclear power plant in 2014 after tens of thousands of anti-nuclear demonstrators marched in Taipei to demand the move.

Minister of Economic Affairs Shen Jong-chin (沈榮津) also weighed in on Han's energy policy on Thursday.

Shen said that nuclear power accounted for a mere 9.9 percent of Taiwan's total power supply, and that the need for continued use of nuclear energy had been overblown.

"It's not like Taiwan is going to suffer major power shortages if the government stops using nuclear energy," the minister said.

Shen said activating the fourth nuclear power plant was not an easy matter as some of the operators involved in the plant construction have gone bankrupt, while others are reluctant to put the fourth nuclear plant into operation because of the high risk.

Shen did not elaborate on the risks.

Among Taiwan's four nuclear power plants, according to Shen, the first reactor at the oldest plant in New Taipei City was decommissioned in December 2018 after 40 years of service, while the decommissioning of the second reactor faces delay as the local authorities have yet to secure a location for the disposal of the nuclear waste.

The issue of nuclear waste from the third nuclear plant in Pingtung remains unresolved, he added.

Han went live on Facebook Thursday announcing his energy policies with his advisory group, which included former Premier Chang San-cheng (張善政) and former Vice Premier Duh Tyzz-jiun (杜紫軍), as well as Huang Shih-hsiu (黃士修), founder of Nuclear MythBusters, which initiated a referendum proposal to activate the fourth nuclear power plant.

The public has been concerned about the stability of the power supply since the ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) pledged to make Taiwan a nuclear-free homeland by 2025, Han said.

To that end, an amendment to the Electricity Act was approved by the Legislative Yuan on Jan. 11, 2017, requiring all nuclear power operations to end by 2025.

In November 2018, however, the Taiwanese electorate voted in a referendum to support abolition of Paragraph 1 of Article 95 of the Electricity Act, which stipulates that "all nuclear energy-based power-generating facilities shall completely cease operations by 2025."

Despite the setback, Tsai has said in April that as long as she and her administration remain in power, she will stick to her goal of a "nuclear-free homeland."

(By Yu Hsiang and Chung Yu-chen)
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