Existing nuclear plants to be shut down: Ma

By Grace Soong ,The China Post

President Ma Ying-jeou promised yesterday that the licenses of the existing three nuclear power plants will not be renewed after they expire, and if the fourth power plant begins stable operations before 2016, early shutting down of the first nuclear power plant will be considered. Ma, who is running for presidential re-election in 2012, held a press conference yesterday to explain the steps which his administration would take to reduce the use of nuclear power, and eventually attain the “nuclear-free” goal. The process will be gradual, and “safety will always be of top concern,” he pledged.

Because of Taiwan’s geographical nature — surrounded by oceans and located in the seismic zone — power generation is doomed to be challenging, Ma said, pointing out that currently, 99 percent of Taiwan’s energy supply is imported. As the government promotes new policies on energy and pushes for the operation of the fourth nuclear plant, maximized safety precautions will be conducted.

If any natural disasters were to leave Taiwan’s nuclear reactors beyond safety standards, the facilities would be suspended or scrapped, he proposed, reasoning that Taiwan cannot afford any nuclear disasters, and “We would never opt for nuclear power generation at the expense of safety.” Adding that once the fourth nuclear power plant is inaugurated, the government will review its nuclear power reduction plan once every four years to realize the goal of turning Taiwan into a “nuclear-free homeland,” Ma provided three premises based on which the gradual process would take place: no power-rationing, maintaining reasonable electricity prices, and upholding the carbon reduction promise.