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Halt to Nuke 4 does not mean termination, says Taiwan premier

Publication Date : 29-04-2014

 

Taiwan Premier Jiang Yi-huah yesterday explained the two points of consensus made on Sunday by Kuomintang officials regarding the Fourth Nuclear Power Plant (Nuke 4), saying that to halt construction on the plant did not mean completely terminating the project.

The Ma administration, the KMT caucus and ruling party mayors and magistrates on Sunday reached a consensus on two points. The first, that construction of the plant's nearly completed No. 1 and No. 2 reactors is to be halted with immediate effect, and secondly that the No. 1 reactor, which is currently undergoing safety inspections, will not be activated when the inspections have been completed.

In response to anti-nuclear protesters' demand for a clearer explanation on the agreements, the premier yesterday morning held a press conference at the Executive Yuan.

Jiang said the government did not make any major changes to its energy policy, adding that the government was being responsible by completing the safety inspections on the No. 1 reactor and by halting construction of the nearly completed No. 2 reactor.

The premier commented on former Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) chairman Lin Yi-hsiung's hunger strike, saying that Lin's demand for the government to immediately terminate Nuke 4 was a rather difficult decision to make.

Jiang said he knew the anti-nuclear power protesters' wish to abolish Nuke 4 once and for all, adding that without Nuke 1, 2 and 3 in operation, the impact would be too great on Taiwan's electricity supply.

The premier said that with the highest expression of the people's will to be carried out through a referendum, the executive branch hoped future generations would be allowed to decide on Nuke 4's fate, therefore “mothballing” Nuke 4 with immediate effect may be the best course of action.

Jiang at the same time denied speculations that the administration was requesting another NT$40 billion to complete the project so it could pass safety inspection.

“No additional funds will be requested (by the administration),” he added.

The premier also commented on Japan's latest energy policy, saying that despite public concerns following the Fukushima disaster, the Japanese government had approved an energy plan that would reactivate the country's nuclear power reactors.

Jiang further said that over the past three years, Japan had tried its best to conserve energy and supply electricity through other energy sources; however, after years of trying, it was being forced to restart some of the reactors to support national power needs.

The premier urged the public to think about the rationale of the Japanese government's decision and consider how long people could endure expensive electricity prices and energy conservation policies without nuclear energy.

Economics Minister Chang Chia-juch said that once nuclear energy was phased out, the country would need massive quantities of natural gas to generate electricity. He said that as there was no facility to receive natural gas in Northern Taiwan, it would take at least eight to 10 years to build such facilities and power plants.

He went on to echo Jiang's argument, saying that over the past three years, Japan had spent more than 21 trillion yen to import natural gas, which has played a significant role in increasing its trade deficit. Chang said it is not hard to calculate the potential cost of importing fuel and the impact this decision this would have on the nation's economy.

Economics Vice Minister Duh Tyzz-jiun said specific details and cost for “mothballing” Nuke 4 would come out before the end of June along with the completion of the power plant's safety inspection.

 

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