The administration of President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) must phase out the nation’s three operational nuclear power plants and stop the fourth from coming online or let the public decide the matter through referendum, experts told a forum on nuclear security yesterday.
“A decision should be made within a year so we can minimize the overall potential danger,” said Chan Chang-chuan (詹長權), a professor at National Taiwan University’s Institute of Occupational Medicine and Industrial Hygiene.
While nobody wants to see a repeat of Japan’s nuclear crisis, Chan said “several signs” pointed to the likelihood that Taiwan’s three nuclear power plants would face a crisis under similar circumstances.
While Ma said earlier this week he hoped Taipei and Beijing would cooperate on nuclear safety, Chan said nuclear security was a global matter requiring international cooperation.
“My suggestion is that Taiwan talk with the international community rather than turn to China to solve all its problems,” Chan told the forum, which was organized by the Taiwan Brain Trust (TBT).
TBT chairman Wu Rong-i (吳榮義) said the Ma administration was reluctant to stop construction at the Fourth Nuclear Power Plant in Gongliao District (貢寮), New Taipei City (新北市), because it concerned massive business interests.
“The contract has been signed so the government still has to pay up if it stops work at the plant,” he said. “Unless Taiwanese speak up and tell the government what they want, the government will push its own agenda.”
Shih Shin-min (施信民), a professor of chemical engineering at National Taiwan University, said Taiwan had a chance to become a nuclear-free country.
“It is all about political will,” he said.
“While nuclear power accounts for 10.72 percent of the [nation’s] total power supply, there would still be a 28.1 percent surplus of electricity left during peak hours if we shut down three of the nuclear power plants and stop building the fourth,” he said. “At the moment, we don’t need to rely on nuclear power.”
Shih also cast doubt on assurances by the Atomic Energy Council and Taiwan Power Co, which operates the plants, that Taiwan’s nuclear power plants were safe.
Wang To-far (王塗發), a professor of economics at National Taipei University, said Taiwan had significant potential to develop renewable energy.
Taiwan can generate 5,000MW of wind power, much more than the 2,700MW the Fourth Nuclear Power Plant would produce once it comes online, he said, adding that Taiwan would have no problem producing 1GW with solar energy.
“It is possible to increase the power generated by renewable energy from 6 percent to 12 percent by 2020,” he said. “However, the problem is whether the Ma administration has the political will and determination to do so.”
Wang said the Ma administration was not enthusiastic about clean energy because it was bent on promoting nuclear power. As the Fourth Nuclear Power Plant is near completion, the government has reached the conclusion that it is unnecessary to develop renewable energy, he said.
However, the Fourth Nuclear Power Plant has many problems, including the use of sub-standard materials and the “illegal” alteration of 700 safety-related designs, which is being investigated by the Control Yuan, Wang said.
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