Wed, Jan 17, 2001 - Page 17 News List

Lin defends plant decision

POWER PLANT POLITICS The Minister of Economic Affairs said yesterday his advice to cancel the nuclear power plant was `professional and conscientious'

By Richard Dobson  /  STAFF REPORTER

Minister of Economic Affairs Lin Hsin-yi is surrounded by reporters as he arrives at the Control Yuan to be questioned over the Fourth Nuclear Power Plant issue.


Minister of Economic Affairs Lin Hsin-yi (林信義) yesterday defended his recommendation to the Cabinet to scrap the Fourth Nuclear Power Plant (核四), one day after the nation's highest legal body ruled the government's actions in cancelling the plant had procedural flaws.

But while Lin said his ministry would respect the decision by the Council of Grand Justices, he clarified they had not ruled on his ministry's recommendation.

"It is not within the justices' jurisdiction to decide whether recommending cancellation of the plant was right or wrong," Lin said.

In a statement issued to the media, Lin said his ministry's advice to cancel the plant was a "professional and conscientious" decision and was made in the "long-term best interests and well being of the nation."

On Sept. 30, Lin delivered the recommendation of the Ministry of Economic Affairs, which oversees the nation's power supply, to the Cabinet to halt construction of the project, saying other alternative forms of power generation were available to replace the plant.

Lin appeared yesterday at the Control Yuan (監察院), the government's watchdog, to deliver a report on the process by which his ministry arrived at the recommendation to scrap the plant.

Although the meeting was closed to the media, Lin explained his ministry's actions in the statement, which said the decision had been made in a "professional, objective, open and transparent manner."

"The 18-member Fourth Nuclear Power Plant evaluation committee met 12 times to exchange opinions on the matter," Lin said in the statement. "The discussions were broadcast on TV and on the Internet, setting an example for the public's participation in discussions on national issues," he said.

Lin said the recommendation was based on a belief that "there would be no power deficit until after 2007, there is no safe method for handling nuclear waste and the viability of the alternate power plan."

That plan aims at making up the power shortfall in the north created by axing the plant and focuses mainly on encouraging the development of existing independent power producers.

Lin stressed the plan's workability in a brief meeting with reporters at the Control Yuan, saying the problems delaying commercial operation of Everpower's (長生) 900-megawatt plant in Taoyuan were almost resolved and construction has begun on the 670-megawatt Chiahui (嘉惠) plant.

Consultations between Everpower, the central and local governments and residents angry over the plants' construction are approaching a solution, Lin said.

Construction on the Chiahui plant began recently, albeit under heavy police protection to keep away enraged local residents.

Lin added that he would abide by instructions from the Cabinet to appear before the Legislative Yuan and deliver a report on why the plant should be cancelled.

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