Government has not abandoned nuclear energy: premier (update)
Central News Agency
2014-04-28 11:41 AM
Taipei, April 28 (CNA) The administration's decision to "mothball" Taiwan's fourth nuclear power plant is neither a u-turn of government policy nor an exclusion of nuclear energy, Premier Jiang Yi-huah said Monday. He also made the distinction between stopping work on the project, which is the administration's policy, and scrapping the project altogether, as demanded by anti-nuclear groups and the main opposition Democratic Progressive Party (DPP). Echoing an earlier comment by President Ma Ying-jeou, Jiang said nuclear energy should be kept as an option for future generations. He categorically denied a rumor circulating on the Internet, which claims that the state-run Taiwan Power Company (Taipower) will install fuel rods as soon as a safety inspection of the plant's first reactor is completed in June. Taipower is responsible for the fourth nuclear project, as well as Taiwan's three other nuclear power plants that are currently in operation. Jiang also said there is absolutely no truth to the rumor that the administration is requesting another NT$40 billion (US$1.32 billion) to complete the project so it can pass a safety inspection. "No additional funds will be requested (by the administration)," he said. The administration's position, confirmed Sunday, is to finish the safety inspection on the plant's already completed first reactor before mothballing the project, Jiang said. No work will be done on the other reactor, which is more than 90 percent complete, he said. This is in line with a consensus reached in a consultation among the ruling and opposition party caucuses in the Legislative Yuan in February 2013, he said. No new funds would to be allocated to the project in New Taipei City, and fuel rods would not be installed in the completed reactor until a referendum is held to decide the fate of the nuclear plant, according to the consensus. The administration's decision is based on that consensus and does not represent a major change in policy, said Jiang, adding that it does not mean "stopping the fourth nuclear project, much less scrapping it." The decision was confirmed in a meeting chaired by President Ma, who doubles as chairman of the ruling Kuomintang (KMT) party. The meeting, held Sunday afternoon, was attended by KMT mayors and county magistrates. As part of the meeting's conclusions, the administration will call a national conference on energy but no date has been set for the meeting. The two-part decision reached in Sunday's meeting shows "goodwill" toward anti-nuclear groups and the opposition, Jiang said. The opposition party and anti-nuclear groups have increased their pressure on the administration since earlier this month and have been demanding that the project be scrapped altogether to avoid risks of radioactive pollution. (By Hsieh Chia-chen, Sophia Yeh and Jay Chen)
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