Thu, Mar 15, 2001 - Page 1 News List

Officials rule out new EIA for plant

POWER PLANT POLITICS Hu Chin-piao, the newly appointed chairman of the Atomic Energy Council, says there's no need to conduct a second environmental impact assessment for the Fourth Nuclear Power Plant


Despite significant changes in the original construction plans for the Fourth Nuclear Power Plant, there is no need for a second environmental impact assessment (EIA), government officials told the Legislative Yuan yesterday.

Speaking in response to legislators' questions, Hu Chin-piao (胡錦標), chairman of the Atomic Energy Council, said he wouldn't consider ordering Taipower (台電) to redo the plant's EIA because the council's EIA committee hadn't received a censure from the Control Yuan over the issue.

In 1995, the Control Yuan censured the council, the Environmental Protection Administration (EPA) and several other government bodies for failing to conduct a second EIA after significant changes were made to the nuclear power plant's designs.

Chief among the alterations was a change in the plant's power output -- from 1,000 megawatts to 1,350 megawatts per reactor.

Hu claims the Atomic Energy Council never received notice of the Control Yuan's censure. The Control Yuan also handed out a second round of censures in 1999.

In March 1999, the Atomic Energy Council under the KMT government -- and led by Hu -- issued the plant its construction license, without dealing with the censure first.

Also appearing before the legislature yesterday was EPA head Hau Lung-bin (郝龍斌), who said he lacked the power to order Taipower to redo its EIA for the plant.

Hau said that the EIA Act passed in 1994 gave him the authority to review reports on significant changes in the power plant's design, but the boosting of the nuclear facility's wattage by 35 percent wasn't one of them.

"The EPA will act in accordance with the law on the EIA issue," Hau said.

In addition, Hau said, the EPA could not ask Taipower to conduct a new EIA for review because Taipower's supervisor is the Atomic Energy Council, not the Environmental Protection Administration.

In addition to the change in power output for the plant's two reactors, there have been several alterations that could warrant conducting a second EIA.

Except for the power output increase, Taipower has been conducting environment impact analyses on changes, sending the results to the EPA for review.

According to the administration, one of these reports includes an environmental impact assessment for a final repository for low-level radioactive waste. The repository is to be located on Wuchiu (烏坵), an island between Kinmen and Matsu.

EPA officials say they are unlikely to keep the Fourth Nuclear Power Plant from going forward because of the lack of a new EIA.

But environmentalists say Taipower has made too many changes to the project's original plan -- including adding a temporary repository for radioactive waste at the plant's site -- without conducting the required EIAs.

Activists say that a highly controversial, "out-of-date" project that was designed a decade ago should be more closely scrutinized.

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