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DPP accuses Taiwan government of nuclear intimidation

DPP accuses Taiwan government of nuclear intimidation

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) – The opposition Democratic Progressive Party on Wednesday accused the government of using taxpayers’ money to intimidate the public by threatening power shortages if the fourth nuclear plant was not completed.
The possibility of the shortages was mentioned in a booklet with questions and answers about the nuclear project presented by the Ministry of Economic Affairs on Tuesday. The government wants to hold a national referendum by the end of the year, but the opposition and anti-nuclear campaigners want an immediate and complete halt without a popular vote.
DPP legislative caucus whip Pan Men-an said the MOEA should stop the publication and distribution of its pamphlet, because it was using public money to scare the same public into supporting its nuclear project.
He described the booklet’s claim that there was a risk of power shortages from 2015 if the fourth plant was not completed as ridiculous and a threat. The MOEA also warned that the likelihood of shortages would become even more real beginning in 2018.
DPP lawmakers said the safety record of state-run enterprises was appalling, causing a complete lack of public trust in the Taiwan Power Corporation’s ability to complete the plant in Gongliao, New Taipei City, and to manage it effectively in a country often hit by earthquakes.
An international safety team has taken position at the plant to conduct safety reviews which are expected to last from May at least until October. The referendum is likely to be scheduled during the final two months of the year.
The MOEA denied it was trying to scare the public, saying its prediction of the risk of power shortages was based on an evaluation of the international economic situation and of the phasing out of other nuclear plants.
Problems with public opposition to the construction of fire-powered plants made it unlikely they would be able to make up for the shortage caused by the falling away of extra nuclear reactors, ministry officials said.
Vice Economics Minister Woody Duh quoted the example of Penghu as a problematic case. Any excess power produced by alternative energy could hardly be transferred out of the islands, while in the event of a shortage, power would have to be supplied from Taiwan’s main island, he said.
Even if Taiwan was filled with wind power stations with the necessary network to distribute the electricity, it would still not be enough to make up for the loss of nuclear energy in the event the fourth plant was not completed, according to Duh.
Ruling Kuomintang lawmaker Lai Shyh-bao said the figures quoted by the MOEA were on the optimistic side because even the fourth nuclear plant was approved by the referendum, it would not be ready to produce power in 2015.
Taipower also came under fire Wednesday for the alleged spending of 60 percent of a nuclear energy-related fund on food.
DPP lawmaker Ho Hsin-chun said that out of a 2012 budget of more than NT$70 million (US$2.3 million) for an awareness campaign about the storage of low-radioactive nuclear waste, 60 percent of the amount that had already been spent had found its way to restaurant meals, presents and excursions. According to the data, it was enough for a company official to just discuss low-radioactive waste with somebody else to run up bills of NT$10,000 (US$335) or NT$20,000, she said.
A Taipower official said the company was in charge of managing the two locations chosen by the government for the eventual storage of the waste, Tajen in Taitung County and the island of Wuchiu near Kinmen. Because no dates had yet been fixed for local referenda, Taipower could use the fund on relevant events, the official said, adding that the amounts of money spent were much lower than what Ho suggested.