Thu, Jun 12, 2003 - Page 2 News List

Activists pan nuclear-free plans

CONFUSION Anti-nuclear groups say that the government's actions have been inconsistent with its stated goal of weaning this country from nuclear power

By Chiu Yu-tzu  /  STAFF REPORTER

Anti-nuclear activists in Taipei County's Kungliao township -- home of the Fourth Nuclear Power Plant -- say that the government's plans to turn Taiwan into a nuclear-free homeland have been muddled and its performance inconsistent.

"We are confused. The government is promoting the idea of building a nuclear-free homeland and continuing the construction of a nuclear power plant at the same time," Wu Wen-tung (吳文通), spokesman for the Kungliao-based Yenliao Anti-Nuclear Self-Help Association, said yesterday.

The Cabinet had originally planned to hold the first National Nuclear-free Homeland Conference next week, but postponed it due to the spread of SARS.

However, next Monday -- the very day the conference was to take place -- the Taiwan Power Company (Taipower), supervised by the Cabinet's Ministry of Economic Affairs, will go ahead with the transfer of one of the two nuclear reactors to Kungliao.

The reactors are being built in Japan and shipped to Taiwan. But in order to avoid provoking anti-nuclear demonstrations in Japan, the reactors will be exported from the Port of Kure (吳港), a military port in Hiroshima Prefecture, Wu said.

However residents in the Kungliao area, including fishermen and representatives of local groups, would cooperate to block all possible sea routes in order to prevent the reactor from being loaded at a wharf near the construction site, Wu said.

Since April, workshops and preparatory meetings have been held island-wide for experts, environmentalists, and residents to come up with strategies to phase out nuclear energy.

Last week, it was announced that the the nuclear-free conference would be postponed until June 27. Cabinet officials said yesterday that the delay was purely due to the spread of SARS and not because of any obstacles the government had encounter in its efforts to promote turning Taiwan into a nuclear-free homeland.

As of yesterday, officials said, Japanese nuclear experts are the only people to have promised to attend the conference. Currently, the Cabinet is desperately contacting experts in other fields, such as renewable energy, in Sweden, the US and Germany.

Officials said there would be no change in topics to be discussed -- which included the decommissioning of existing nuclear plants, disposal of radioactive waste and re-evaluating the Fourth Nuclear Power Plant.

The Cabinet's intention to bring forward the dates for decommissioning the three active nuclear power plants has provoked Taipower workers, who have accused the government of neglecting their right to work.

Yesterday at the Legislative Yuan, a dozen of representatives of Taiwan Power Labor Union expressed their opposition to the governments plans to retire three operational nuclear plants and hold a national plebiscite on the future of the fourth plant.

The director-general of the union, Shih Chao-hsien (施朝賢), stressed the importance of nuclear power plants, saying that they accounted for 22 percent of the total power generation in Taiwan.

"Earlier decommissioning of active nuclear plants and halting the construction of the one under construction will lead to an additional NT$5 million expenditure annually, making a price-hike within a 15 percent range inevitable," Shih said.

Meanwhile, unsolved problems pertaining to the disposal of radioactive waste prompted a demonstration conducted by more than 100 anti-nuclear activists outside the Taitung County Council building yesterday.

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