Taiwan sees mass anti-nuclear protests

13 March 2017

In response to massive anti-nuclear protests in Taiwan on the sixth anniversary of the 11 March Fukushima accident in Japan, Taiwan’s Ministry of Economic Affairs promised to comply with a plan to decommission its four nuclear plants and to make Taiwan “nuclear-free” by 2025, as well as undertaking to use renewable sources for 20% of its power needs.

A ministry press release said the movement towards non-nuclear sustainable energy and lower carbon dioxide emissions had been stepped up. It announced a two-year   plan to boost photovoltaics and a four-plan to increase wind energy.

In 2016, renewable energy accounted for 4.8% of Taiwan’s power needs, but the aim is to increase this to 20% by 2025. Taiwan currently has three operating nuclear plants with six reactors (5200MWe) accounting for 19% of electricity generation. Another focus of protest is Taiwan's growing problem with storing and treating some 3600t of used fuel, which is currently kept on islands offshore.

Minister of Economic Affairs Lee Chih-kung has already said he would not consider restarting two closed reactors unless all other alternatives were exhausted. Before reactivating either of them, the government would first seek public support and secure the approval of the Legislature, he said.

Unit 1 at the Chinshan NPP in New Taipei's Shimen District was shut down in December 2014 when a broken connecting bolt was discovered in a fuel bundle during annual maintenance checks. Unit 2 at the Kuosheng NPP in New Taipei's Wanli District, has been offline since May 2015 after an automatic shut down.

The Legislative Yuan has instructed the Atomic Energy Council (AEC) to submit a safety report before the reactors can be reactivated.

According to the AEC, Chinshan 1 is scheduled to be decommissioned in December 2018 and Chinshan 2 in July 2019. Units 1 and 2 at Kuosheng are set for decommissioning in December 2021 and March 2023. The two reactors at the Maanshan NPP in Pingtung County, are scheduled to be decommissioned in July 2024 and May 2025. Lee reiterated that the government's decision to decommission all three operating nuclear plants as scheduled remained unchanged. Taiwan's fourth NPP at Lungmen was mothballed in 2014 without ever operating, following anti-nuclear protests around Taiwan and a hunger strike by former Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Chairman Lin Yi-hsiung.



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