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Reactor 3rd nuclear plant works again
Taiwan News, Staff Writer
2013-12-07 03:11 PM
TAIPEI (Taiwan News) – The first reactor at the third nuclear plant in Pingtung County was started up again and functioned normally after a breakdown earlier in the week, the Taiwan Power Corporation announced Saturday.

The reactor fell out Wednesday, barely days after the end of repairs which lasted from October 16 through November 28. The mishap came amid grave concern about nuclear energy after the March 2011 Fukushima disaster in Japan.

Taipower said it applied with the Atomic Energy Council on Friday afternoon to restart the reactor, and approval was forthcoming by the evening. The reactor was started up again around 8 p.m. and started producing electricity again at 10:40 a.m. Saturday, functioning normally, according to the state-run utility.

Meanwhile, a group of activists calling for a nuclear-free Taiwan arrived at the Taichung City Government building Saturday on their walking tour around the island. They staged an impromptu nuclear safety drill to mark the perils of nuclear plants.

The group left the site of the fourth nuclear plant in Gongliao, New Taipei City, on Taiwan’s National Day, October 10. A nuclear-free country had already become a national consensus, organizers said, so government and opposition should respond to public opinion and make an effort to stop the country’s reliance on nuclear energy. The group said several shops in the area had decided to support its campaign by helping out participants.

Early this year, the government of President Ma Ying-jeou announced it planned to hold a nationwide referendum about the fate of the Gongliao plant, a project which is nearing completion about decades of controversy.

Critics however rejected the proposal because it would be a waste of time and money as the vast majority of the public is already opposed. Opinion polls over the past year have consistently shown majorities ranging from 60 percent to 70 percent opposed to nuclear energy and to the fourth plant.

Attempts by the government to have the Legislative Yuan approve a question for the referendum over the summer failed after vehement resistance from opposition parties like the Democratic Progressive Party and the Taiwan Solidarity Union.

A ruling Kuomintang lawmaker announced in September he would withdraw his proposal for a question after an unrelated power struggle within the party.

Ma initially wanted to hold the referendum before the end of this year, but the delay has made this impossible. The KMT was reportedly hesitant to organize the vote next year because of the proximity to local elections expected in December 2014. The unpopularity of the nuclear issue was likely to cost the ruling party many votes if the referendum was tied up with the elections, reports said.

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