Premier Su rules out rebuilding fourth nuclear power plant

Taipei-Premier Su Tseng-chang (???) on Thursday categorically ruled out the possibility of rebuilding the mothballed Fourth Nuclear Power Plant, stressing that "it cannot be and must not be rebuilt," despite an upcoming national referendum on the issue.

Su was quoted by Executive Yuan spokesman Lo Ping-cheng (???) when talking to reporters following a weekly Cabinet meeting, at which the premier was briefed by Hsu Yung-hui (???), head of the Nuclear Power Division under state-run Taiwan Power Company (Taipower), on the controversial facility in New Taipei's Gongliao District.

The Fourth Nuclear Power Plant was sealed in 2014 by the administration of then President Ma Ying-jeou (???) amid rising public concern over the use of nuclear power, prompted by the 2011 accident at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant in Japan's Fukushima Prefecture, which was triggered by a devastating tsunami following an earthquake.

"Based on the report and figures provided by Hsu, there is no way the Fourth Nuclear Power Plant can be restored to its previous condition," Lo said, citing comments by Su at the meeting.

According to Su, one of the two power generators at the plant is a mixture of components, while the other is incomplete.

A total of 1,777 items that are part of the No. 1 generator were taken from the No. 2 generator, and many failed a safety test, including the safety rescue system power and nuclear reactors, Su said, noting that was why the government authorities involved were censured by the Control Yuan in 2003.

At the same time, the construction license for the nuclear power plant expired late last year, with the team in charge of building the facility being dismissed.

In addition, much related equipment has already passed its warranty period and is no longer produced by the manufacturer, he emphasized.

On top of that, 120 unused fuel rods, the last batch of 1,744 at the mothballed plant, were shipped back to the supplier in the United States on Sunday by Taipower. That was carried out in compliance with a legislative resolution passed in January 2018 that required their return to General Electric Co. to obtain some return on the assets, he explained.

In addition, an investigation by the Central Geological Survey in 2013 confirmed that the Fourth Nuclear Power Plant is built on several earthquake fault lines, including a two-kilometer-long S Fault directly underneath the facility, which poses a huge safety risk, he pointed out.

"Under such circumstances, it is impossible to resume construction on the nuclear power plant," he stressed.

The premier also focused on the sensitive issue of how to handle the hazardous radioactive nuclear waste.

"I asked local government heads and they all opposed the operation of the plant, and no city or county is willing to store the nuclear waste," he said.

Regardless of party affiliation, all cities and counties across the country prioritize safety as their sole concern when addressing the Fourth Nuclear Power Plant issue, which reflects the consensus reached by the public, Su said.

The premier also asked the Ministry of Economic Affairs and the Atomic Energy Council to provide the public with more detailed information on the current condition of the facility and the thorny issues facing nuclear power.

A national referendum on activating the fourth nuclear plant is scheduled to be held on Aug. 28.

The referendum, launched by nuclear power advocate Huang Shih-hsiu (???), asks: "Do you agree that the 4th Nuclear Power Plant be activated for commercial operations?"

Supporters have lauded it as a clean and relatively cheap energy able to settle problems of air quality and rising electricity costs.

Critics, however, have warned of the safety hazards of the plant in particular and nuclear power in general, citing the 2011 nuclear power plant meltdown in Japan.

Source: Focus Taiwan News Channel