Mon, Nov 05, 2012 - Page 3 News List

Legislators call for nuclear plant conversion

By Lee I-chia  /  Staff reporter

Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) legislators Ting Shou-chung (丁守中) and Chiu Wen-yen (邱文彥) yesterday urged the government to replace nuclear power with liquified natural gas (LNG) and to halt the construction of the Fourth Nuclear Power Plant in New Taipei City’s (新北市) Gongliao District (貢寮) in a bid to prevent nuclear disaster.

Ting said it is a pity that although the legislature’s Economic Committee passed a resolution last week asking state-owned Taiwan Power Co (Taipower), which runs the country’s nuclear power plants, to convert the plant into one that runs on LNG, Ministry of Economic Affairs officials and Taipower have yet to carry out the resolution, and instead have told the public that the shift could raise electricity rates and lead to power rationing.

Ting said the ongoing construction of the Fourth Nuclear Power Plant has required additional investment several times and total investment has amounted to about NT$280 billion (US$9.6 billion) so far. The project still requires an additional NT$56.3 billion, he said.

Saying that electricity generated from the plant would only account for 7 percent of the nation’s total electricity, Ting said that LNG-generated electricity would only cost NT$0.2 per kilowatt-hour more than the NT$2.4 per kilowatt hour price of nuclear generated electricity, and also free the public from possible nuclear disasters.

Chiu added that doubts remain over the safety of the plants.

The first, second and fourth nuclear plants are close not only to Taipei and New Taipei City — which are home to more than 5 million people — but also to geological faults and shorelines, which makes them vulnerable to earthquakes and tsunamis, he said.

While Taipower has said it will seek a review by the World Association of Nuclear Operators before the fourth plant begins operating, Chiu said the credibility of the association has been called into question by the nuclear disaster in Japan last year.

Given the example of the Fukushima Dai-ichi accident and the millions living near the three northern nuclear power plants, Chiu said “we should reconsider a withdrawal mechanism ... if the plant is unsafe, we should prioritize the safety of the public and quit the project.”

Ting said he will seek cross-party support to establish an ad hoc legislative committee to strengthen oversight of the country’s nuclear safety.

Additional reporting by CNA

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