Taiwan will sign a letter of intent with the US on cooperation in handling nuclear or radiation emergencies, Atomic Energy Council Deputy Minister Shieh Der-jhy (謝得志) said on Saturday.
“The pact will pave the way for the National Nuclear Security Administration [NNSA] under the US Department of Energy to assist us in case of nuclear emergencies,” Shieh said.
Shieh, who departed for the US yesterday to sign the accord on behalf of Taiwan, said on Saturday the recent radiation crisis at Japan’s Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant, which was crippled in earthquake and tsunami disasters that struck the country on March 11, has prompted countries around the world to review their energy policies and nuclear power safety.
Japan’s plight has also led the US, a major nuclear technology exporting country, to show unprecedented concern about Taiwan’s response capability, Shieh said.
Aside from its agencies in charge of nuclear energy matters, such as the NNSA and the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC), Shieh said, the US Department of State has also expressed concern about Taiwan’s nuclear energy management model and regulations.
Shieh was referring to A.W. Reynolds, a science and technology adviser to the US secretary of state, who took the initiative to visit Taiwan’s nuclear power plant during his recent stay in Taipei to attend a global high-tech forum.
Shieh said Reynolds visited the Jinshan Nuclear Power Plant in New Taipei City (新北市) to learn more about the plant’s emergency response equipment and measures.
Shieh said he and some other council staff members would also meet with their NRC counterparts on nuclear safety issues.
For years, staff members from the two agencies have met -annually either in the US or in Taiwan to review Taiwan’s nuclear safety control systems and measures, Shieh said.
During his US trip, Shieh said he would also visit several NNSA laboratories and some units under the Department of Energy to learn more about US policy on nuclear energy in the wake of the recent Japanese nuclear crisis as well as its possible new radiation control measures. He is scheduled to return on May 25.