Fri, Mar 29, 2013 - Page 3 News List

Premier tells Cabinet to visit nuclear power plant

By Shih Hsiu-chuan  /  Staff reporter

Premier Jiang Yi-huah (江宜樺) yesterday told Cabinet officials to arrange a visit to the Fourth Nuclear Power Plant in Gongliao District (貢寮), New Taipei City (新北市), to gain the necessary knowledge to defend the government’s policy to complete the facility.

Jiang issued the directive at a Cabinet meeting, Executive Yuan spokesperson Cheng Li-wun (鄭麗文) said.

Cheng said Jiang wanted all Cabinet officials to visit the near-completed power plant to gain information so that they can speak out in defense of the Cabinet’s stance.

The Cabinet yesterday published a pamphlet of questions and answers on the government’s nuclear energy policy, with 14,000 copies available free of charge to people working at the Executive Yuan.

In the pamphlet, the Cabinet dismisses concerns over the lack of repositories for the disposal of nuclear waste as a reason to oppose the power plant, saying that it is international practice that a government builds a nuclear power plant and looks for a repository for spent nuclear fuel simultaneously.

Taiwan Power Co (Taipower) has been looking for a repository for spent fuel rods in a stable geological formation, while low-activity radioactive waste could be placed in Daren Township (達仁), Taitung County, or Wuciou Township (烏坵), Kinmen County, if residents give their consent in a local referendum.

Daren and Wuciou were selected by the Ministry of Economic Affairs as potential final repositories for nuclear waste in September 2010, but residents and elected officials in the districts have voiced opposition to the plan.

The pamphlet led to an hour-long discussion at the meeting.

An official who asked to remain anonymous said some officials doubted that the two proposals for a repository for nuclear waste disposal were workable.

“The two proposals are not possible solutions to the problem of disposal of nuclear waste,” Deputy Minister of the Interior Lin Tzu-ling (林慈玲) said.

“The project to develop a repository had been called off due to strong opposition from the Hualien County Government. Both the Taitung County Government and the Kinmen County Government are opposed to referendums,” Lin said.

In Taiwan, low-level nuclear waste produced by the six reactors at the three operating nuclear power plants is placed in a waste storage facility on Orchid Island (Lanyu, 蘭嶼), off the coast of Taitung County, while high-level waste and spent fuel rods are stored in cooling pools at the three plants.

Public Construction Commission Minister Chen Jeng-chuan (陳振川) said he doubted chances of nuclear waste being disposed anywhere on Taiwan proper while Orchid Island residents remain concerned about the safety of the nuclear waste.

People fear nuclear power because they are not always well-informed about the scientific principles of the design and construction of nuclear power plants and because they have no confidence in the government, Chen said.

Chen suggested that the government encourage members of the public, such as Taipower employees, to speak up for the safety of nuclear power plants.

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