The Atomic Energy Council (AEC) yesterday approved Taiwan Power Co’s (Taipower) request to restart a nuclear reactor, saying the council is still adhering to the government’s plan to achieve a nuclear-free homeland by 2025.
Taipower operates six nuclear reactors at three nuclear power plants. Until last month, only the No. 1 reactor at Ma-anshan Nuclear Power Plant, in Ma-anshan (馬鞍山), Pingtung County, was operational.
Since the implementation of a summer electricity rate at the start of this month, Taipower has made two requests to the council, saying it needs to restart the No. 1 reactor at the Guosheng Nuclear Power Plant in New Taipei City’s Wanli District (萬里) and the No. 2 reactor at the Ma-anshan plant.
Minister Without Portfolio Chang Ching-sen (張景森) on Thursday announced on Facebook the activation of the No. 1 reactor at the Guosheng plant, before the AEC made an official announcement on Friday.
Opponents of nuclear power worry that the government’s promise to phase out nuclear power by 2025 will not be realized.
A group of protesters gathered in front of the Executive Yuan at 9:30am yesterday, demanding that Premier Lin Chuan (林全) bar Taipower from restarting more nuclear generators.
“Lin should oust AEC Minister Hsieh Shou-shing (謝曉星) and immediately stop the nuclear plants’ operation,” Taiwan Environmental Radiation Survey convener Lin Jui-chu (林瑞珠) said.
There are 8,783 spent fuel rods stored at the Guosheng plant and in case of an emergency, there would be no room to store other spent fuel rods taken out of the reactor, Lin said.
The campaigners also asked the Control Yuan to investigate the liability of Lin Chuan and Hsieh, as well as that of Minister of the Economic Affairs Lee Chih-kung (李世光).
The AEC called a news conference one hour after the protest began.
“The AEC has been independent in making decisions. The minister without portfolio’s predictions might be based on his information from other sources,” AEC Department of Nuclear Regulation Director-General Chang Shin (張欣) said.
Taipower on June 1 made a request to restart the Guosheng plant’s No.1 reactor and on Friday made an application for electricity delivery, department Deputy Director-General Li Chi-ssu (李綺思) said.
The company applied to restart the Ma-anshan plant’s No.1 reactor on Wednesday, which the council approved yesterday, Chang said.
Hsieh said the council reviews applications filed by Taipower and the Ministry of Economic Affairs based on their adherence to safety standards.
The six nuclear generators will start to be decommissioned from next year through to 2025, he said, reaffirming that the time frame has not changed.
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