Fri, Mar 15, 2019 - Page 3 News List

Finishing nuclear plant impractical: minister

IRREVERSIBLE STEPS?Not only would it cost up to NT$70 billion and 10 years to finish the Fourth Nuclear Power plant — its fuel rods are already being shipped back, he said

By Lin Chia-nan  /  Staff reporter

The Fourth Nuclear Power Plant is pictured in New Taipei City’s Gongliao District in an undated photograph.

Photo courtesy of Taiwan Power Co

Starting up the mothballed Fourth Nuclear Power Plant would take 10 more years and cost up to NT$70 billion (US$2.27 billion), according to conservative estimates, Atomic Energy Council (AEC) Minister Hsieh Shou-shing (謝曉星) told the Legislative Yuan in Taipei yesterday.

Plans to finish the power station in New Taipei City’s Gongliao District (貢寮) were officially abandoned in July 2015 under then-president Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) and then-premier Jiang Yi-huah (江宜樺).

However, they and other nuclear power proponents have since called for the plant to be completed and put into operation.

Nuclear Myth Busters founder Huang Shih-hsiu (黃士修), whose referendum to abolish the Cabinet’s “nuclear-free homeland by 2025” policy were passed on Nov. 24 last year, last week filed two new proposals for referendums about nuclear power, including one seeking to start the plant.

It would take two or three more years and an additional NT$50 billion to finish building the power plant, assuming no political interference, Huang said.

Starting the plant would involve at least 10 years of preparation and expenditure of NT$60 billion to NT$70 billion, Hsieh said in response to questions from Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) lawmakers, adding that those are conservative estimates.

The Ministry of Economic Affairs and state-run Taiwan Power Co (Taipower) would need to file a proposal for review by the AEC if they want to unseal the plant, but it is hard to say how much time and money that would cost, he said.

In July last year, Taipower started shipping some of the plant’s 1,744 unused fuel rods back to its US supplier, and it would continue doing so, Hsieh said.

The government has not yet decided on the location of a site for the storage of highly radioactive nuclear waste and no municipality has expressed its willingness to provide space for such a site, he said.

DPP Legislator Su Chiao-hui (蘇巧慧) said the council should step up communication with the public, as their stance on nuclear power has become an unavoidable issue for any candidate running in next year’s presidential election.

Luckily, a magnitude 5.1 earthquake that was felt in Gongliao on Wednesday morning did not cause any disaster, but people have to know the potential risks of continuing to use nuclear power station, Su said.

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