President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) yesterday unveiled his new nuclear energy policy, promising the government would run comprehensive trial operations and meet all safety requirements before beginning operations at the Fourth Nuclear Plant in Gongliao (貢寮), New Taipei City (新北市), and that the 40-year life-span of the three existing nuclear plants would not be extended.
“After commercial operations begin at the Fourth Nuclear Plant, we will examine overall nuclear energy development every four years and consider the consequences, such as restrictions on electricity use, before deciding on whether we should abolish nuclear energy. We are adopting a proactive, practical and responsible approach to the issue,” Ma told a press conference at the Presidential Office.
The two units at the Jinshan Nuclear Power Plant in Shihmen District (石門), New Taipei City (新北市), are scheduled to be decommissioned in 2018 and 2019, with the two units at the Guosheng Nuclear Power Plant in Wanli District (萬里), New Taipei City, closing in 2021 and 2023, and the two at the Ma-anshan Nuclear Power Plant in Ma-anshan (馬鞍山), Pingtung County, shutting in 2024 and 2025.
Minister of Economic Affairs Shih Yen-shiang (施顏祥) said the two reactors at the Jinshan Nuclear Power Plant would cease operations earlier than scheduled if the Fourth Nuclear Power Plant starts operating by 2016.
The Ma administration’s latest nuclear energy policy does not give an exact timetable for when the government would reach its goal of a nuclear-free homeland.
Ma said the new policy was in line with Article 23 of the Basic Environment Act (環境基本法), which stipulates that the government should make plans to gradually achieve the goal of becoming a nuclear-free country, adding that Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Chairperson Tsai Ing-wen’s nuclear energy proposal fails to consider all the possible outcomes.
“To reach the goal of a nuclear-free homeland, I won’t chant empty slogans irresponsibly or present an unrealistic ‘ideal’ proposal,” he said.
The government’s nuclear policy was finalized after more than 10 inter-departmental meetings this year and cautious measures would be taken under the principles of no power rationing, maintaining stable electricity prices and the continued reduction of carbon dioxide emissions to meet international goals, he said.
“We have established radiation protection measures for any disasters caused by the leaking of dangerous amount of radioactive material. We would rather sacrifice nuclear energy than risk causing a nuclear crisis,” he said.
In response to concerns about the budget for the Fourth Nuclear Power Plant, whose commencement date has been repeatedly postponed, Shih said the ministry was calculating the additional time and budget required for improvement work at the plant.
The ministry would announce a commencement date and the exact budget for the additional work early next year, Shih said.
DPP presidential candidate Tsai said Ma’s insistence on retaining the nuclear power program was neglecting the risk of a nuclear accident and that it would be to the detriment of Taiwan’s policy on sustainable energy.
Ma’s pledge to start commercial operations at the Fourth Nuclear Power Plant by 2016 means that Taiwan would not be able to achieve its “nuclear free” goal in the next 30 years, she said.