Wed, Jun 28, 2017 - Page 3 News List

Claims of nuclear plant costs rebutted

EXPENSIVE MOTHBALL:Hsu Kuo-yung said the Cabinet is evaluating whether to sell off the plant’s generator systems or to refit it as a fossil fuel power station

By Chen Wei-han  /  Staff reporter

Executive Yuan spokesman Hsu Kuo-yung addresses a news conference in Taipei on May 25.

Photo: CNA

The Cabinet yesterday denied reports that taxpayers would have to foot a NT$283 billion (US$9.33 billion) bill to shutter the Fourth Nuclear Power Plant, saying that the government is still evaluating how to deal with the mothballed plant.

Chinese-language media reports said that each household might have to pay NT$5,600 and every industrial user NT$7.58 million to compensate for the costs incurred in the construction and maintenance of the facility in Gongliao District (貢寮), New Taipei City.

According to the reports, Minister of Economic Affairs Lee Chih-kung (李世光) approved a proposal to require households and businesses to foot the bill as the government could not afford the expense given its push for the NT$882.49 billion Forward-looking Infrastructure Development Program.

Executive Yuan spokesman Hsu Kuo-yung (徐國勇) yesterday rejected the reports, saying that the Cabinet is still evaluating possibilities for the plant, such as selling the generator systems to foreign buyers or refitting the plant for other purposes.

The Cabinet has not reached any conclusion, and the budgets for the infrastructure program and the nuclear plant are different, as one is a special budget and the other a management fund, so there is no causal relation between them, the spokesman said.

“The Basic Environment Act (環境基本法) stipulates that plans should be made to make the nation nuclear-free, so the Fourth Nuclear Power Plant is not going to be activated and the government will not extend the operational lifespan of the three other nuclear power plants,” Hsu said.

The Gongliao plant has been sealed since April 2014.

The Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) has vowed to close it permanently as the party is committed to a nuclear-free Taiwan.

Taiwan Power Co is looking for buyers and evaluating the possibility of transforming the facility into a fossil fuel power station, the Bureau of Energy said.

Although environmental groups have urged the permanent closure of the plant, the government would seek to recycle part of it, DPP Legislator Huang Wei-cher (黃偉哲) said.

It would be unfair if the cost were transferred to the public, Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Legislator Lee Yen-hsiu (李彥秀) said.

“It was the DPP’s arbitrary decision to appropriate the special budget for the Forward-looking Infrastructure Development Program,” Lee said.

The DPP has swindled voters with its “nuclear-free home” policy, as rather than sealing or abolishing the plant, it now wants to transform it and is considering having the public pay the cost, Lee said.

“The nation’s energy options require more careful deliberation. The DPP … should give the public a clear explanation if it wants them to pay the bill,” she said.

Additional reporting by Sean Lin

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