Sat, May 29, 2004 - Page 4 News List

Nuclear reactor to arrive amid protest

COMMON CAUSE Activists from Taiwan and Japan will protest against the arrival of a second reactor of a kind that they say has a track record of problems

TAIPEI CNA

An anti-nuclear activist group said yesterday it would hold rallies to protest the delivery from Japan early next month of the second of the two reactors for the Fourth Nuclear Power Plant.

NoNuke Taiwan Union said the advanced boiling-water reactor, scheduled to arrive next Friday, was exactly the same model as those used in the Kashiwazaki-Kariwa Nuclear Power Plant in Japan's Niigata Prefecture which had demonstrated numerous mechanical defects.

NoNuke Taiwan Union executive director Ho Tsung-hsun (何宗勳) said that several environmental protection activist groups in this country and Japan will launch protests and rallies beginning on Tuesday to express their opposition to use of the reactors.

The Japanese environmentalists are scheduled to launch a series of sea-borne protests near Yokosuka Harbor on Tuesday from where the reactor is being shipped. Similar rallies will be held on land in a few other Japanese cities, Ho said.

Taiwanese environmental protection groups and social and human rights groups will protest next week at the Interchange Association -- Japan's quasi-embassy here -- and in Kungliao, Taipei County, where the Fourth Nuclear Power Plant is located.

According to Ho, Taiwan could become only the second country in the world to use the advanced boiling-water reactors, which have proven to be unreliable.

Ho quoted Japanese statistics as indicating that the reactors in the Kashiwazaki-Kariwa 6 and 7 plants experienced a number of problems in the first three and a half years of operation from 1996, mostly as a result of cracks in fuel rods.

Ho lambasted the government and Taiwan Power Co for insisting on continuing construction of the controversial nuclear plant and on using the boiling-water reactors, noting that even the Japanese authorities have refused to endorse the safety of the core systems.

Japanese legislators have questioned the regulations on export permission for the reactors to Taiwan. Ho said the Japanese government replied that "Taiwan should bear the full security responsibility for the import of the [reactors], and we have no plans to suspend the export."

The first of the two reactors for the Fourth Nuclear Power Plant arrived last year, despite protests from residents near the construction site in Kungliao.

Construction on the controversial power plant is only half complete after years of political wrangling over the issue dating back to 2000.

Construction was abruptly halted in October 2000 by the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) just five months after President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁). The administration ordered a resumption of construction in February 2001 after a backlash from the opposition camp.

The government at one point planned to hold a referendum in Kungliao on the future of the plant, in keeping with the DPP's policy of creating a nuclear-free country.

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