President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) yesterday promised not to begin operations at the Fourth Nuclear Power Plant in Gongliao (貢寮), New Taipei City (新北市), unless its safety is assured and insisted that creating a nuclear-free environment remained the government’s ultimate goal.
Following the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant disaster caused by the earthquake and tsunami that hit Japan in 2011, the government has conducted comprehensive examinations of Taiwan’s three operational nuclear power plants and the Fourth Nuclear Power Plant, which is under construction.
The plant will undergo test operations and inspections by international organizations to ensure its safety before commercial operations begin, Ma said.
“Our policy on nuclear energy is to assure nuclear safety and reduce reliance on nuclear power steadily with an aim to build a nuclear-free environment. We want to reach that goal without having to limit electricity use or set electricity prices unreasonably high,” he said.
Ma made the comments yesterday when meeting with former chairman of the French Nuclear Safety Authority, Andre-Claude Lacoste, at the Presidential Office amid growing public concern over the safety of the nation’s nuclear power plants in the wake of the nuclear accident in Japan.
Currently, there are three operational nuclear power plants: two in New Taipei City and one in Pingtung County.
A number of technical problems that occurred during tests at the Fourth Nuclear Power Plant, which could have led to a severe nuclear disaster if they occurred during regular operations, have further deepened public fears over nuclear power.
Ma said that the government has adopted the nuclear safety regulations set last year by the EU’s European Nuclear Safety Regulator Group to examine the safety of local nuclear power plants and will invite experts from the group to confirm the government’s findings.
He also urged Lacoste, who will chair the International Atomic Energy Agency next year, to support the nation’s bid to attend agency’s meetings and to allow Taiwan to exchange experiences and seek cooperation with the international community on nuclear safety issues.