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Fri, Feb 16, 2001 - Page 3 News List

Plant dispute moves to Control Yuan

POWER POLICY Though the Executive Yuan has ordered building of the Fourth Nuclear Power Plant to resume, the country's top watchdog has yet to rule on whether that instruction was in accordance with the law

By Lin Mei-chun  /  STAFF REPORTER

The battle over the Fourth Nuclear Power Plant has shifted from the legislative and executive branches of government to the Control Yuan, as members of the country's watchdog for public officials vowed to speed up their investigation into the Cabinet's Oct. 27 decision to halt construction of the plant.

While the Cabinet announced on Wednesday that the project, which was interrupted for almost four months, would proceed, the future of the plant is far from secure.

"The political responsibility that should be shouldered by the officials involved is not our concern. We [the five-member special task force of the Control Yuan] will focus on the legal aspects of the decision-making process. That is, whether the decision was reached in accordance with the law," said Lin Shih-chi (林時機), a member of the task force. "In addition, we will look into which agencies should take care of the financial losses resulting from interruption of the plant's construction."

Lin went on to dismiss rumors that the resumption of construction of the power plant would affect the Control Yuan's decision.

"Our determination to make an impartial ruling ... has never been shaken. It is also unfair to make any speculation at the moment as the first meeting will not be held until next week."

Lin said that although no definite timetable had been set, they would proceed as quickly as possible.

In related news, disenchanted by the Cabinet's giving ground to renew the power plant's construction, anti-nuclear groups yesterday appealed to the Control Yuan, claiming that the government had failed to conduct a new environmental impact assessment (EIA) for the power plant, given that the specifications for the reactors had changed since the initial EIA was approved.

The petitioners said that the Cabinet was irresponsible to allow further construction of the plant as a significant increase to the planned power output of the reactor had been made, but not officially approved by the relevant government agency.

According to Kao Cheng-yen (高成炎), a representative of the Green Party, Taiwan Power Corp (台電) made a drastic change in terms of the reactor's power output -- from 1,000 megawatts to 1,350 megawatts -- but a new EIA had never been conducted by the Environmental Protection Administration.

Kao pointed out that the government departments in charge had been censured in the past by the Control Yuan for failure to follow proper procedures, but so far no compensatory measures had been taken.

Government agencies also came under attack for failing to reassess the plant's earthquake resistance, as well as failing to find a proper site for the nuclear waste it would generate.

In response to the attacks, Control Yuan member Kang Ning-hsiang (康寧祥), who received the petitioners yesterday, said the project would run into many difficulties if no new environmental evaluation was completed.

"Citing the change to the power output of the reactor, for example, how could such a vast change be made without a safety assessment being made beforehand" Kang said. "The assessment has to be done, and it needs to be done in accordance with an even stricter standard."

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