Sat, Dec 21, 2002 - Page 4 News List

New law allows for early shutdown of nuclear reactors

By Crystal Hsu  /  STAFF REPORTER

The country's nuclear reactors may stop operating before their life spans expire after the legislature yesterday passed a law that allows authorities to do so legally.

The newly adopted nuclear reactor regulations stipulate all nuclear reactors may operate for a maximum of 40 years and may be stopped, upon approval, from generating electricity ahead of their set retirement.

Currently, only executive orders are available to deal with nuclear power plants whose existence is divided into three stages -- construction, operation and decommission.

Under the new regulations, a nuclear power plant may be put out of service if authorities find it desirable and practical to do so.

There are three nuclear power plants in Taiwan with construction of a fourth plant partially completed.

The legislation is intended to ensure nuclear power safety. To that end, it says, nuclear reactors should be built in sparsely populated areas, with proper distances from residential areas.

Plans to establish schools, factories, hospitals, prisons and nursing institutions in such areas must obtain approval from local governments as well as regulatory agencies.

The law also requires that the design, construction and operation of all nuclear reactors to be on a par with terms laid out by authorities.

Once put into operation, all nuclear reactors must go through a comprehensive safety examination every 10 years. Violators will be handed stiff penalties, the law says.

Those caught in breach of the rules may be fined up to NT$15 million or put in prison for three years. Technicians found neglecting their duties while monitoring nuclear reactors may have their license revoked or suspended for up to 19 months, depending on the severity of the charge.

Listed as the fifth item on the legislative agenda, the law passed through the legislature without sparking any disputes.

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